“Men are freest when they are most unconscious of freedom. The shout is a rattling of chains and always was.” D. H. Lawrence
Meet the often-forgotten Cessna XMC
Only one was ever built, and it was never intended for series production. First flown in January 1971, only one XMC was built and it was never intended for series production. Instead, it was intended to serve as a research aircraft, enabling the company to explore various concepts, technologies and manufacturing technologies more thoroughly. Perhaps to remove any doubt regarding the purpose of the XMC, Cessna explained that the name was an acronym that stood for ‘eXperimental Magic Carpet.’
Looking at the statistics, the XMC resembled a futuristic 150. It was equipped with the same 100 hp Continental O-200 four-cylinder engine, it weighed approximately 1,000 pounds and it had two seats. Even the wingspan was similar, only six inches less than the 150. But similar as the technical specifications may have been, the two airplanes could not have been more different, which was the entire point. The XMC’s engine was relocated to the aft end of the fuselage and the traditional tail was replaced with a twin-boom arrangement that resembled the much larger Skymaster twin. This resulted in a decidedly new look that was a significant departure from the existing airframes.
Because the powerplant was unchanged and the weight similar to the 150, Cessna did not expect the XMC to exhibit markedly different performance. Instead, the company used the airplane to evaluate various manufacturing methods, such as metal bonding, to reduce the cost of production aircraft. A later modification of the XMC would see the introduction of a propeller shroud, intended to explore improvements in propeller efficiency and noise reduction. Cessna’s interest in the XMC extended beyond the technical aspects, however. In a 1971 Popular Science interview, Cessna president Del Raskom explained how one of the benefits to the pusher-propeller layout was the ease of cabin entry. He felt that this was more difficult in a traditional tractor-prop layout and he touted the XMC’s wider, lower cabin and comparatively massive doors.
When asked about the swept wing, Raskom claimed it was chosen for style and visibility. While the visibility from the XMC’s cabin was undoubtedly fantastic, it is possible the sweep was primarily a function of the center of gravity. Many aircraft with aft-mounted engines struggle with a center of gravity that moves too far aft with an empty cabin and the XMC’s wing sweep might have actually been utilised to position the fuel tanks farther forward. This would have helped to prevent the airplane from tipping onto its tail with an empty cabin, as the Rutan EZ models will do if the nose gear is not retracted.
The XMC would go on to serve its purpose as a research vehicle and then disappeared from public view entirely. Presumably scrapped, only a handful of photos remain. Today, photos are apparently all that remain. There is no record of any XMC models ever being mass produced, no official company brochures appear to have ever been distributed, whilst detailed information about the airplane is exceedingly scarce.
Those persons who correctly identified this aircraft and correctly: Jonathan Starke, Ari Levien, Kevin Farr, Peter Rossouw, Richardt du Plessis, Ahmed Bassa, Colin Austen, Steve Dewsbery, Dave Lloyd, Rennie van Zyl, George Le Roux, Pierre Brittz, Allan Le Roux, Danie Viljoen, Selwyn Kimber, Rex Tweedie, Wolter de Graaf, Greg Pullin, Wouter van der Waal, Erwin J.W. Stam, Hilton Carroll, Mike Tanski, Andrew Peace, Johan Venter, David Plew-Chisholm, Alf Ljungqvist, Lance Williams, Nic Manthopoulos, John Moen, Zack Fourie, Geoff Street, Herman Nel, Gregory Yatt, Andre Breytenbach, (34)
Visiting the greatest aviation event – EAA AirVenture 2022
Neil Bowden has advised me that he still has a few seats available to attend EAA Oshkosh this year. It is now too late to try and obtain a US visa, therefore this offer is directed towards persons who already have a US visa and would like to travel with Neil’s Air Adventure Tours.
Please refer to the attached advert and if you want to take up this offer
E-mail: Neil1@telkomsa.net or Call 084 674 5674
Africa’s leading show for General Aviation is back
AERO South Africa will take place at Wonderboom National Airport over three days from 7 to 9 July 2022 and to date there are more than 40 aviation companies that will be exhibiting at this prestigious show. Once again African Pilot has been commissioned to produce the AERO South Africa official digital exhibition catalogue. Should your business be interested in exhibiting at AERO South Africa, please contact Annalie Reynolds as soon as possible: Annelie.Reynolds@za.messefrankfurt.com.
Visitor attendance is FREE and we are looking forward to meeting you at the show. Please register now by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/3simOir. African Pilot will have a show stand at AERO, so you can meet up with our team over the three days.
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.
Wallpaper calendar for the month of June. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
AAD launches General Aviation Hub
SAA CEO says things are ‘completely different’ and promises future profitability
As South Africa’s aviation market faces losses in domestic capacity following the collapse of Comair, South African Airways (SAA) CEO John Lamola has said that the ‘mentality has changed’ at SAA, hinting things would be different with the running of the airline following its restructuring. Speaking to CNN’s Richard Quest during a ‘Quest Means Business’ interview, Lamola said South Africa has a ‘special role’ as an aviation market in Africa, describing the market as a ‘unique’ and ‘strategic asset’. While the South African government has a history of becoming involved in the airline’s operations, “the new SAA that we are leading is totally different”, Lamola added.
The ‘new’ SAA: what is different?
SAA is “majority owned by a non-government entity” and has emerged from its restructuring as an “agile, stripped-out airline with a focus strategy of unlocking the African market,” Lamola highlighted. Lamola said that the flag carrier has restructured sufficiently to operate profitably and stated that “South African Airways is emerging out of the COVID pandemic as a new totally different operation. For the first time SAA will be run by a private entity,” he added, alluding to the airline’s new Strategic Equity Partner (SEP), Takatso Consortium.
On 11 June 2021, South Africa’s Ministry of Public Enterprises named Takatso as SAA’s new SEP. The consortium is comprised of two entities: Harith General Partners, a pan-African fund manager and investor in African infrastructure and airport development, as well as Global Airways, a local airline management firm. Details of this partnership reveal that 51% of SAA shares will be owned privately by Takatso Consortium and 49% will be owned by the South African government. The government will also possess a ‘golden share’ of 33% of the entity’s voting rights, which will be a non-dilutable share as agreed on by all parties. The Takatso Consortium will inject three billion rands into the airline.
Is this a strategic asset for the South African government and are bailouts a thing of the past?
Bailouts are not ‘unique’ only to South African Airways, said Lamola, who pointed out that airline bailouts have been prevalent across the world. “During the COVID-pandemic period, governments around the world have put about $200 billion dollars, helping airlines perform their strategic role of creating connectivity, travel among people and trade,” Lamola said. He added: “The South African government has been the main shareholder of the airline in the past. Like any other shareholder, when their investment is in trouble and there is a strategic role for South African Airways, the government has always come into play.”
Attending the SACAA’s International Flight Inspection Symposium
The IFIS 2022 symposium was scheduled in Durban, South Africa for the first time on the African continent and only the second time in the southern hemisphere. It was interesting that African Pilot was the only aviation media that was invited to attend this symposium and where all the cost were paid by the SACAA. Although this was a highly technical conference, I have started to understand some of the complexities surrounding flight inspection systems from all over the world. In addition, the aviation industry is driven by significant technological developments especially when the safety of flying is involved. The conference also featured various exhibitors involved within the flight inspection industry.
My initial take-away from this conference was that the future of airport the flight inspection of essential navigational aids will be utilising drones and what I observed was that all the major companies involved in flight inspection calibration are already including drone applications within their offering to the world. I will try and unpack some of what I learn at the conference within the July edition of African Pilot. However, my congratulations go out to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) for arranging and hosting this most important conference that happens somewhere in the world every two years.
Polokwane Airshow (Cancelled – this was to be expected)
Contact: Noel Netshivhodza at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 081 728 0843
SAPFA Speed Rally at Middleburg airfield
Contact David le Roux at E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 073 338 5200
Friday evening: Pre-race podcast, 19h00: https://youtu.be/ZJW3kk33rR0
Saturday: Live commentary from 10h00: https://youtu.be/JgDpi_zlrZ0
Kenya Airways’ subsidiary, Fahari Aviation and Eve sign agreement to scale urban mobility
Fahari Aviation, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways and EVE UAM, LLC, a subsidiary of Eve Holding, Inc. (‘Eve’) and a carve-out of Embraer S.A. (‘Embraer’), have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for up to 40 electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles. The agreement includes joint studies through a working group to develop and scale the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market and a business model for cargo drone operations in Kenya. The project is expected to start deliveries in 2026.
The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is a new technology that uses electricity to hover, take-off and land vertically, making it easier to move within cities while avoiding traffic jams.
“Urban air mobility is the future of transport and we are honoured to be the champions of this in the region. The journey to realise the dream of eVTOL vehicles in Kenya is on course and the partnership with EVE UAM, is a key achievement for us as part of the strategy to adopt new technologies as a growth strategy for the sustainable development of Africa.” said Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Airways. “This is a new chapter of the Eve and Fahari Aviation partnership to strengthen both companies’ commitment to establishing the foundations that will sustainably support the ecosystem for urban air mobility in Kenya. Last year, we announced a collaboration to develop operational models for Fahari Aviation’s key markets and this announcement confirms that it is evolving successfully,” said Andre Stein, co-CEO of Eve.
Fahari Aviation has been focusing on innovative and sustainable solutions to address different issues such as traffic jams, sightseeing, parcel delivery, agriculture and wildlife protection. Eve’s zero-emission, low-noise and accessible eVTOL, together with its global experience, will benefit the development of air mobility in Kenya.
Iranian F-14 Tomcat fighter crashes after engine failure
An Iranian Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet crashed after suffering an engine failure. The incident took place on June 18, 2022, minutes after the aircraft took off from Isfahan, central Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Tomcat was about to land back at the Shahid Babaei Base after a flight mission, according to local news agency Mehr News. “The main cause of this accident was the failure of the fighter engine,” a regional military spokesperson told Mehr News. “Fortunately, with the timely action of the pilot and the co-pilot, both of them ejected from the fighter and were not seriously injured.”
Shahid Babaei Base, also known as Tactical Air Base 8, is located in the vicinity of Isfahan International Airport (IFN). It was specifically built to house the IRIAF fleet of Tomcats after their acquisition in 1974, five years before the Islamic Revolution which cut diplomatic ties between Iran and the United States. Iran was the sole foreign customer of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and since the US Navy retired the aircraft in 2006, it is the last to operate the air superiority fighter made famous by the 80s classic Top Gun. With no way for the IRIAF to procure parts for 42 years due to international sanctions, the number of jets still flight-capable is unclear.
American Airlines to scrap A321 involved in take-off wing strike
An American Airlines A321 that was involved in a take-off wing strike in April 2019 will not return to service. The decision comes 15 months after the incident. During that time, the plane has sat idle at New York’s Kennedy Airport. It is another chapter in an underreported incident that came dangerously close to a disaster. The incident occurred on 10 April 2019. The leased Airbus A321 is registered as N114NN and has been with American Airlines for six-plus years. On the evening of 10 April N114NN was to operate AA300 from New York’s Kennedy Airport across to Los Angeles. The aircraft experienced an uncontrolled 45° roll when taking off. The plane’s wing clipped a sign and a pole on the ground. The aircraft took off and climbed without further incident. N114NN ascended to 20,000 feet before turning and making a safe landing back at Kennedy.
“There is a good crosswind, but we had an uncommanded roll to the left as we rotated,” the pilot told ATC. “We were banking, uncontrolled bank 45 degrees to the left.” Back on the ground, the extent of the damage became clear and N114NN has not flown since.
MD-82 catches fire after crash landing in Miami
A Red Air McDonnell Douglas MD-82 with 140 people onboard caught fire after its gear collapsed while landing at Miami International Airport (MIA). The aircraft, registered as HI1064, was conducting flight L5203 from Santo Domingo (SDQ) to MIA. According to Flightradar24 data, it landed at 17:38 GMT (5:38 PM EDT) on 21 June 2022. A statement by Red Air said the aircraft carried 130 passengers and 10 cabin crew.
According to CBS Miami, three people have been hospitalised after the crash, while earlier reports indicate at least four people being injured. The cause of the accident is being investigated, the US National Transportation Safety board said in a statement. Red Air is a Dominican Republic-based airline established in 2020. According to Planespotters data, it operates three MD-82s (including the damaged HI1064) and one MD-81. The airline flies exclusively between its base at SDQ and MIA. The MD-82 involved in the incident was 31 years old, originally delivered to American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) in 1990. Red Air acquired it in 2021 from Venezuela’s LASER Airlines.
Adversary-training Hawker Hunter down off east coast of the US
The FAA has reported that a 1959 Hawker Hunter Mk 58 jet fighter experienced an engine failure and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 20 June about 40 miles southeast of Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina. The pilot of the single-seater was rescued by the US Coast Guard, though it remains unclear whether the pilot ejected or ditched.
According to FAA records, the aircraft was operated by adversary air training provider Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. (ATAC) under lease from Hunter Aviation International, listed as a Delaware corporation. According to Wikipedia, Williamsburg, Virginia-based ATAC has operated 14 former Swiss air force Hunters, though three had been three lost to previous accidents.
Online news provider The Drive reported that news of the accident first surfaced on social media late Monday and that flight tracking data suggested the Hunter was participating in US Navy Composite Unit Training Exercises involving the supercarrier USS George H.W. Bush’s strike group. The exercise protocol is typically the final workup phase for the strike group before a deployment. The Drive further reported that flight tracking later showed a second ATAC Hunter with a similar tail number circling the area of the crash.
US-made jets, air defence on Ukrainian fighter pilots’ wish list
Ukrainian fighter pilots expect to speak to US government officials to make the case for the top two technologies needed to repel Russia’s air force: additional ground-based air defence systems and Western fighter jets. What is not on the list of priorities? The MQ-1C Grey Eagle drone, which has been the focus of recent arms sale negotiations but is, according to the airmen, too big of a target for Russian forces. The discussions, which a small group of Ukrainian airmen hope to have with officials from the Pentagon and State Department, as well as a bipartisan group of lawmakers could ignite a new debate over whether the United States should supply Ukraine with more advanced American weaponry that will take time to learn to use and could pose more of a security risk, should the technologies fall into the wrong hands.
Currently, the Ukrainian air force’s biggest priority is securing an American commitment to supply ground-based air defence systems needed to ensure Ukraine can continue to maintain control of its airspace and defend against Russian attacks to civilian infrastructure. “When you think air defence, you think fighters, right? But I’d say that the ground-based air defence was the key in this war and it’s still the key moving forward,” said a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter squadron commander who goes by the callsign ‘Moonfish.’
However, “we have a lot more pilots than jets at this point,” he said, adding that eventually the Ukrainian air force is going to need Western fighter jets to replenish the losses sustained by the service. The United States and its NATO allies have been hesitant to provide the jets due to concerns that Ukraine would not be able to absorb Western fighters within a timeframe that would allow the Ukrainian air force to operate them while the war with Russia is still ongoing.
Moonfish and ‘Juice,’ a fighter pilot who leads a tactical aviation brigade, acknowledged that it will take time for the Ukrainian air force to learn how to operate US-made aircraft and mission systems, establish a working knowledge of how to tactically employ the fighters in combat and sustain the jets. However, both expressed confidence that Ukraine’s more experienced pilots could learn how to operate an F-16 in less than a year. “We are ready to undertake the training more intensively,” Juice said, adding that one way to speed up training would be to have different groups of pilots specialise in different mission sets. “We need suppression of enemy air defence capability. We need air-to-ground capability and the biggest priority is air-to-air capability,” Juice said. “So, we could set different groups for each capability and it would be shorter, like a small course for each group and I believe that we could do it pretty fast.”
After Russian forces ended their assault on Kyiv and fighting coalesced in the eastern Donbas region, US security assistance to Ukraine, which now totals $5.6 billion since the Russia’s invasion in February has been predominantly focused on ground warfare, with equipment such as howitzers, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ground vehicles making up significant portions of recent arms packages.
In the early months of the war, the United States appeared open to potential agreements in which partner nations would transfer used MiGs to Ukraine in exchange for US fighters. However, after a fighter swap with Poland fell through, US officials have largely expressed disinterest with supplying fighters to Ukraine, even as the Ukrainian air force has made public calls for Western jets.
In the US 2022 records record pilot hiring
2022 is shaping up to be the best year on record for pilot hiring since 2000, so states a report from Future and Active Pilot Advisors (FAPA), a career and financial advisory service for professional pilots. The first five months of 2022 saw airlines hire 5,526 pilots, one-hundred more than were hired during the same time-period last year.
“If you are a pilot, you are finding a job,” said Sam Scanlon, managing partner for JSfirm.com, an online, aviation-industry job-search forum. Scanlon explains, “The most popular trend right now is what we at JSfirm call Hooks. These can be anything from top pay, match pay plus, sign-on bonus, flexible schedule, flex time or four-day work-weeks. Companies are going to every extent possible to compete for talent in this market.” Scanlon asserts, “The job market is and will remain competitive. This past May was our largest month for job postings on JSfirm.com, coming in with close to 45,000 jobs. This coupled with Boeing and JSfirm’s reports about the shortage of qualified aviation personnel through 2035 will continue to make aviation a top career choice.”
JSfirm.com’s data suggests the top three flying jobs remain: Part 121 airline pilots, Part 135 corporate / charter pilots and helicopter, primarily EMS pilots. Top non-flying jobs include A&P mechanics (I.A. is always a plus) and avionics technicians. Another rapidly-growing, aviation-related job is flight nurses and paramedics.
Saab delivers final T-7A Red Hawk development jet fuselage
Saab has delivered the last of five T-7A Red Hawk aft fuselages to be used for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft from its facility in Linköping, Sweden, to Boeing’s production site in St. Louis, Missouri. The aircraft are part of a $9.2 billion contract for 351 T-7A advanced trainers, 46 simulators and support awarded to Boeing by the US Air Force in 2018. Going forward, Saab will produce aft fuselage sections for the T-7A at its new manufacturing facility in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Citing ‘the benefits of the T-7A’s digital foundation,’ Boeing reports that it was able to join the aircraft’s aft fuselage section to the forward fuselage in less than 30 minutes. As previously reported the first T-7A Red Hawk test aircraft built for the EMD phase rolled out last April. Designed by Boeing and Saab using 3D model-based definition and data management systems, the T-7A features open architecture software, digital fly-by-wire controls and advanced cockpit technology. The Red Hawk is intended to replace the Air Force’s aging T-38s trainers.
Airbus and Qantas sign US$200 million Australian sustainable aviation fuel partnership
European plane maker Airbus and the Qantas Group have agreed to invest US$200 million (£164 million) in Australian-developed and -produced feedstock and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) initiatives, called the Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership. As Australia currently lacks a commercial-scale SAF industry the partnership’s aim is also to help Qantas Group achieve its goal of introducing 10% SAF into its overall fuel mix by 2030. The partnership has come about through Qantas’ recent orders for Airbus A350-1000s for the Australian carrier’s Project Sunrise non-stop flights to both New York and London, as well as the Group’s Project Winston domestic fleet renewal involving A220 and A321XLR jets. The new fleet should immediately reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 25% for both Qantas Airlines and its subsidiary Jetstar.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stated that the investment will accelerate the development of SAF in Australia, creating value for both companies’ shareholders while also creating jobs and reducing the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. “The use of SAF is increasing globally as governments and industry work together to find ways to decarbonise the aviation sector. Without swift action, Australia is at risk of being left behind,” Joyce commented.
Boeing unveils sustainable ecoDemonstrator jet to test technology
Boeing has introduced its 2022 ecoDemonstrator aircraft, a company-owned 777-200ER, which will be used for testing 30 new technologies to further sustainability. Some of these new technologies include a water and weight conservation system and new 3D printed parts to help reduce fuel consumption and weight. The aircraft manufacturer will also test new ways to use UV light for disinfecting. The aircraft will be powered during testing by a 30 / 70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel and conventional jet fuel.
“When the industry talks about 2050 goals for getting to net zero carbon emissions, 2050 is not really an abstract idea to me,” said Addison Salzman, an airplane platform leader with the ecoDemonstrator programme. “This is going to happen well before I retire. So, when I think about 2050 goals, I think about what the goals for my career are. It is really all of our jobs to think about sustainability and how it affects our work so that we can make the right choices.” Rae Lutters, ecoDemonstrator Project Manager, also noted that of the 200 technologies tested since the programme’s beginnings ten years ago, a third of them have made it into the company’s products and services line-up.
Over the next year, Boeing will feature some of the technologies now in use that were proven with the ecoDemonstrator programme, including a split-tipped winglet that is now on the 737 MAX family of aircraft, touchscreens on the 777X family and testing that has led to a better understanding of how to eliminate noise from aircraft.
Israel announces regional air defence network with Middle East partners
Israel has announced that it has joined with several other countries in the Middle East to form a new US-led joint air defence network, known as the Middle East Air Defence Alliance (MEAD). The announcement, made by Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz in a Monday speech, means that Israel will tie its air defence capabilities in with regional players who for years have served the role of antagonists. However, Israel officially declined to comment on what nations may be involved and details about the new setup are scant at best. A request for comment from the White House was not immediately returned. According to Gantz, the MEAD will help the countries in the region to better protect themselves from Iran’s attempts to attack the region’s countries using rockets, cruise missiles and UAVs. “This programme is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Gantz said.
An Israeli defence source said that MEAD is based on the already-operational coalition against Iranian armed UAV’s. That coalition appears to have played a role in last year’s shootdown of Iranian UAVs by a pair of Israeli F-35s, which according to defence sources used real-time intelligence and data collected outside of Israel. “Now it is clear that more than one country participated in the interception of the two Iranian UAV’s,” the defence source said.
Among nations to keep an eye on as potentially participating in the MEAD would be Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Notably, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have had preliminary discussions about purchasing Israeli-made air defence systems. Gantz speech at the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee focused, unsurprisingly, on Iran, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming travels to the region.
The partnership is initially for five years with options to extend the duration. Qantas’ financial contribution to the Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership includes AU$50 million previously committed to research and development of SAF in Australia. Pratt & Whitney, whose GTF engines were recently selected by Qantas for its new A220 and A320neo-family aircraft, is also contributing to the venture. The company supports greater use of cleaner, alternative fuels including SAF, while continually advancing the efficiency of aircraft propulsion technology.
Cirrus Aircraft delivers first training aircraft to United Aviate Academy
Cirrus Aircraft has delivered the first of twenty-five SR Series TRAC20 aircraft to United Aviate Academy. The TRAC20 is an advanced, high-performance aircraft that will be used for initial pilot training at the only ab-initio flight academy operated by one of the largest U.S.-based airlines. In February, the company announced a purchase agreement with United Aviate Academy to purchase twenty-five TRAC20 aircraft with the option to acquire fifty more as the programme grows.
United Aviate Academy’s TRAC20 fleet is equipped with an integrated avionics suite essential for situational awareness and hazard avoidance, such as Synthetic Vision, ChartView, Active Traffic and more. These advanced avionics will prepare United Aviate Academy students for their careers at regional and mainline airlines after graduation. Additionally, the hot weather package keeps students and instructors comfortable in the Goodyear, Arizona training environment. The hazard and traffic avoidance features provide extra safety in this dense flight training area.
United Aviate Academy’s year-long training programme at Phoenix Goodyear Airport sets up students for a career that reflects United’s high standard of professionalism and commitment to delivering a safe, caring, dependable and efficient travel experience. The Academy is part of United’s industry-leading pilot career development programme, which offers aspiring and established pilots the most direct path to a United flight deck. Within the next decade, United aims to hire more than 10,000 pilots and train about 5,000 aspiring pilots to aviation through the Academy.
Air India considers an order for 300 new narrow-body planes
India’s largest carrier Air India is considering a large order for 300 narrow-body passenger aircraft, industry sources familiar with the matter told India’s daily newspaper Business Standard on 20 June 2022. The airline currently operates a fleet of a total of 115 narrow-body and wide-body planes. The acquisition, which is yet to be confirmed by the New Delhi-based airline, could become one of the largest aircraft orders in India’s commercial aviation history.
Airbus or Boeing could win the huge order for the A320neo family or Boeing 737 MAX family planes, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. The new jets are expected to significantly increase Air India’s capacity in both domestic and short-haul flight operations. Tata Group, which now owns Air India, is looking to overhaul the former debt-laden carrier and hinted at fleet renewal and expansion plans back in February 2022 when the company was assessing the right fleet size for future operations and began discussions with Airbus, Boeing and aircraft leasing companies over purchasing wide-body passenger planes. At the time, Tata Sons had been mulling the acquisition of Airbus A350-900s or Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners capable of operating long-haul routes to the United States.
Second Beechcraft Denali completes first flight
Textron Aviation announced the successful first flight of its second Beechcraft Denali flight test article as momentum builds for the clean-sheet aircraft’s certification programme. The milestone flight follows the Denali prototype, which completed its first flight in November 2021. The second test aircraft joins the first Denali prototype in the important flight test program that substantiates the segment-leading performance expected of the Denali. The aircraft’s flight lasted two hours and one minute, reaching a max altitude of 15,500 feet with a maximum speed of 240 knots. To date, the programme has accumulated more than 250 flight hours.
“This flight is another vitally important step for the Beechcraft Denali program as the aircraft will be used primarily for testing aircraft systems like avionics, cabin environmental control and ice protection,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering & Programmes. “The team has made great progress, accomplishing key goals in the flight test programme, and the Denali team heads into the second half of 2022 with a great deal of momentum.”
The Denali flight test certification programme is expected to eventually include a third flight test article and three full airframe ground test articles as it expands operational goals focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance.
Engineered to achieve cruise speeds of 285 knots and full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, the Denali is designed to have a range of 1,600 nautical miles at high-speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers and to be able to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago, New York to Miami or London to Athens. The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine. Like the company’s other aircraft, the Denali can also use sustainable aviation fuel. The FADEC-equipped, 1,300 shaft horsepower (SHP)-rated turboprop engine eases pilot workload with its single-lever power and propeller control. The airplane is also equipped with McCauley’s new 105-inch diameter composite, five-blade, constant speed propeller, which is full feathering with reversible pitch and ice protection. The cockpit features the Garmin G3000 intuitive avionics suite with high-resolution and touchscreen controllers. An integrated Garmin autothrottle is now a standard feature, which interfaces with the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and Flight Management System (FMS) to provide easy speed control throughout all regimes of flight from take-off to touchdown.
NASA updates astronaut assignments for Starliner test flight
NASA has assigned astronauts Barry ‘Butch’ Wilmore and Suni Williams to its Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Wilmore will serve as mission commander and Williams as pilot with Williams taking the place of Nicole Mann, who was reassigned to the SpaceX Crew-five mission last year. Mike Fincke, who was previously assigned as the Joint Operations Commander for CFT, will now train as the backup spacecraft test pilot for the mission.
Starliner completed its first uncrewed mission to the ISS, Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), last month. During the mission, Starliner encountered a few snags including a stuck docking mechanism, two thrusters that did not fire as expected and a problem with the cooling system. OFT-2, which became necessary after Starliner experienced software problems during its first orbital flight test (OFT-1) in December 2019, also faced launch delays due to an oxidiser isolation valve issue on the vehicle’s service module propulsion system.
“Starliner and the Atlas V performed well during all phases of OFT-2 and now we are taking a methodical look at each system to determine what needs to be upgraded or improved ahead of CFT, just as we do with every other crewed flight,” said NASA Commercial Crew Programme Manager Steve Stich. “In addition, Butch, Suni and Mike have been instrumental in the development of Starliner on the path to having a second space station crew transportation system.”
According to NASA, the agency and Boeing are continuing to conduct OFT-2 data reviews along with assessing CFT launch opportunities. Wilmore and Williams are expected to spend approximately two weeks onboard the ISS during the mission. If CFT is completed successfully, NASA says it will begin the final process of certifying Starliner for regular crew missions to the ISS.
US sale of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone to Ukraine hits stumbling block
According to a report by Reuters, plans by the US administration to sell four large drones to Ukraine have been delayed over fears the technology could end up in enemy hands. According to a previous report, the United States Department of Defence was planning to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle Medium Altitude Long Endurance armed drones to Ukraine. The news agency cited two sources as saying a technical objection over the export of the drones was raised during a review by the Pentagon. The fear is that the radar and surveillance equipment on the drones may create a security risk for the United States if it falls into Russian hands.
The Gray Eagle is based on the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial system developed by General Atomics. It can carry AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bombs. The Reuters report further cited one of its sources, described as a US official, as saying that the decision on whether to send the drones to Ukraine has been moved up the chain of command for review. Reuters cited the Pentagon as saying that technology security reviews were standard practice. ‘All cases are reviewed on their own merit; a spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Video shows dramatic moment Ukrainian drone strikes Russian oil refinery
According to Russian state news agency TASS, the fire at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery began during the morning of 22 July 2022. Eyewitnesses told TASS they noticed two large drones circling the area before one of them fell into the refinery’s heat exchanger, exploding and starting a fire. The other drone then flew away. The fire engulfed a 50 square meter area, before finally being extinguished by firefighters several hours later. The refinery is in Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov oblast, approximately 10 kilometres (six miles) from the official Ukrainian border. A large part of the neighbouring Ukrainian region of Luhansk has been occupied by the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic since 2014.
According to Liveuamap.com, the frontline of the Russian-Ukrainian war is currently situated approximately 140 kilometres (87 miles) northeast of Novoshakhtinsk. Shortly after the attack, numerous videos reporting to show the explosion and the fire began to surface online. One video, which had initially been shared by multiple Russian Telegram channels, zooms in on the drone before it plummets into the refinery and the plant catches fire. Thanks to the relatively high-quality footage, the drone can be identified as a PD-2 from its distinct tail shape. The drone, manufactured by Ukrainian company UkrSpecSystems, weighs 55 kilograms and can be outfitted with an optional vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) module, which is not present in the video.
According to the manufacturer, the drone is highly modular and can be equipped with a wide variety of payloads, including surveillance equipment and bombs. Some versions of PD-2s have the capability to also share data, allowing one drone to act as a signal repeater for several others. As noted in the tweet, a unit of these drones, consisting of several aircraft and a control station, was bought by Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian band that won the Eurovision Song Contest. After selling the prize and some memorabilia from the contest, they announced that they would spend the money on PD-2s. Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for the drone strike. The attack on the refinery follows series of attacks on Russian strategic targets near the border with Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.
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