“The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”
African Pilot’s September 2020 edition
The September edition of African Pilot featuring Avionics and Instrumentation is complete and will go into its distribution phase this week. On behalf of African Pilot’s dedicated staff, I would like to thank those advertisers that supported the September edition during these difficult times, which I believe is testimony to the overall production quality of Africa’s finest and most important aviation monthly magazine.
African Pilot’s October edition
Work on the production of the October edition has already started. This edition of African Pilot will feature Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) and Aircraft Refurbishment. Once advertisers see the benefits of marketing their products and services to a vast audience with short videos and picture galleries, they will realise that marketing is most important for future profitability. In South Africa and the African continent, only African Pilot has the latest software to provide digital enhancement to any advertiser at this time.
The material deadline for the October edition is Friday 18 September 2020.
For advertising opportunities please contact Adrian Munro at e-mail: email@example.com or Cell: 079 880 4359. All editorial material should be sent to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
The following are links to all the magazines that African Pilot produced this year so that you can download all the 2020 editions in magazine view format:
Video of the week: Death Valley filming
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
AERO South Africa news
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Launch of new ‘picture of the week’ from readers
Something exciting for African Pilot’s readers to enjoy is the launch of the ‘Picture of the Week’. Please send any aviation related picture to me at: email@example.com at a resolution of at least 500 Kb. There is no payment or prize offered, just editorial recognition. However, all photographs submitted will be considered for the ‘Picture of the Month’ within the monthly magazine and I will be looking for a sponsor to cover the cost of a monthly fee.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2020 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.
27 and 28 August
Africa Drone Conference virtual conference by means of a webinar
Contact Tel: 011 886 0433 Website: www.vukanicomms.co.za
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting to be a zoom meeting
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally at Secunda airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
23 – 24 September
KZN Spring Carnival – Inanda Dam
Contact John Neilon 082 485 5514 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to COVID-19 this airshow has been cancelled for 2020 and will be re-scheduled in 2021
Great Train Race and Fly-in to Heidelberg airfield – Heritage Day
Contact Van Zyl Schultz E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 560 2275
Garden Route airshow at George Airport
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 418 3836
Due to COVID-19 this airshow has been cancelled for 2020 and will be re-scheduled in 2021
29 September – 4 October
SAC National Championships Tempe Airport, Bloemfontein
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
3 and 4 October
Newcastle airshow at Newcastle airfield
Contact Johan Pieters E-mail: Johan@champ.co.za Cell: 082 923 0078
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting to be a zoom meeting
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
24 and 25 October
SAC North West Regionals TBC
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
26 to 28 October
Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC Forum DWTC, Dubai
Registration is now open for Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC
Forum. FREE registration: https://bit.ly/2SnJ33S
CAASA Awards at CAASA House Lanseria International Airport
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 659 2345
5 and 6 December
SAC Ace of Base TBC
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Moroccan F16 contract awarded to Lockheed Martin
On 14 August, the US Department of Defence announced that Lockheed Martin had been awarded a contract for new production of F16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft. The contract announcement read: “The total value for the initial delivery order is $4 941 105 246 and will be awarded on the same date. The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft, including both the pre-priced recurring core configuration costs at $2 862 797 674 and the engineering change proposal / definitized contract action for the non-recurring costs not-to-exceed $2 078 307 572 obligated at approximately $1 018 370 710,” The contract is expected to be completed by 31 December 2026. According to the US Department of Defence, if all potential foreign customers placed their maximum desired orders over the next decade, Lockheed Martin would receive $62 billion in F-16 contracts.
In September 2019 Morocco requested 25 F16C/D Block 72 aircraft and related equipment for $3.787 billion. The Moroccan request includes Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines, APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems, AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM missiles, Paveway II guided bombs and GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs, amongst others.
The Royal Moroccan Air Force currently operates 23 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft that it received from 2011 to 2012 (one was lost over Yemen during operations as part of the Saudi-led coalition). The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency recently approved the upgrade of these aircraft to the latest F-16V Block 70/72 standard. Morocco’s F-16s are equipped with a variety of extra equipment, including Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pods, Goodrich DB-110 airborne reconnaissance pods and Raytheon’s Advanced Countermeasures Electronic System (ACES). Armament includes AIM-9X Block II Sidewinders with lock on after launch capability, AGM-65D Maverick air-to-surface missiles and Enhanced GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb kits.
West African pilots to continue to be trained by Apogee-SSU
US company Apogee-SSU is training Cessna 208B Caravan pilots of the Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad air forces under a United States government contract. Africa Intelligence reports, the US Department of State recently renewed the company’s training contract. Apogee-SSU said on its website it has openings in Africa performing services for the Department of State (DOS), Bureau of African Affairs. This requirement is for the full-time services of three Technical Advisors to train selected aviation personnel in the region.
In August 2019 Apogee-SSU announced it was seeking candidates to serve as advisor for countering violent extremism for Niger, Chad and Cameroon as part of the US government’s Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) initiative to build the long-term capabilities of North and West African partners to contain, disrupt and marginalise terrorist organisations and networks in the region. TSCTP partners include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
Apogee-SSU Joint Venture is a partnership between Strategic Solutions Unlimited and Apogee Systems Corporation. Its collective experience encompasses the US Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, the company said. Cameroon, Chad and Niger have all received Caravan aircraft from the United States, some equipped for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role while Rwanda will be receiving Caravans next year.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
FedEx Boeing 767F performs emergency landing, pilot injured
A FedEx Boeing 767F performed an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the early hours of 19August 2020, after suffering from a reported landing gear failure. The aircraft, registered N146FE, was en route from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) when the landing gear issue was detected. After the crew were cleared for an ILS approach to Los Angeles 24L runway, the aircraft performed a low approach over the runway for ground services to evaluate the damage. As reported, nothing was seen as visibility was simply too low.
The Boeing 767F performed a second low pass at 10:59 UTC before holding over the sea. The aircraft was then cleared for an emergency landing on runway 25R. The plane landed without the left gear locked and in place, “leading it to come to rest with the engine holding the plane up on the left-hand side”, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
There were only two pilots on board the aircraft, Gregor said. Both pilots were able to evacuate the plane. However, one of them suffered from a minor leg injury and was subsequently taken to hospital. His condition was unknown, but the injury was described as not life-threatening. The runway was closed until the aircraft was removed.
NTSB preliminary report: Bell 206
On 8 August 2020, a Bell 206B helicopter was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Marathon, Texas. The pilot was seriously injured, whilst the three passengers were fatally injured. The flight’s mission was to conduct aerial survey of desert bighorn sheep in the Texas Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. When the helicopter did not return for refuelling at the expected time, a search was initiated. The wreckage was located about 12h00, by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department personnel who notified authorities.
The pilot reported to the first responders that about five minutes before refuelling; the helicopter was about 800 feet above ground level when he felt a slight vibration. He informed the passengers he would be conducting an emergency landing. The vibration intensified and he was losing manoverability, the vibration got worst. The helicopter lost lift and impacted terrain short of the intended landing area. The pilot stated that the engine never stopped producing power. The helicopter pilot was not in contact with air traffic control.
Let-410 crash in DRC surrounded by mystery
Mystery surrounds the crash of a Let L4-10 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week. The aircraft is believed to have been operated by Doren Air Congo carrying humanitarian and medical equipment to fight COVID-19 on a domestic flight from Kalima to Bukavu. Regulations allowed a freight-only mission but reports now suggest there were two passengers on board. Although the operator was given as Doren Air Cargo, the flight was said to be operated on behalf of Agefreco; a company that appears to have ceased trading in 2007. The aircraft had disappeared from radio communication shortly before landing. Last Friday the crash site was discovered some eight nautical miles from the airport in dense jungle. None of the four people on board survived. The Aviation Herald reported that there was fog in the area at the time of the crash and that the eventual crash site is just south of Mount Kahuzi which peaks at almost 11,000 feet.
Take-off with inoperative magneto ends in emergency landing
The private pilot and a passenger planned to depart on a cross-country personal flight in the Piper PA32R from the airport in Falcon, Colorado, where density altitude was about 9,500 feet mean sea level. During the engine run-up, the engine began running roughly. The pilot and a mechanic attempted to troubleshoot the engine issue by checking the dual magnetos. According to the mechanic, the left magneto was inoperative and the P-leads were wired incorrectly. He then disconnected both magnetos’ P-leads. The pilot’s second and third engine run-ups appeared to produce full engine power when he adjusted the fuel mixture. However, with an inoperative left magneto, it is unlikely that full power was achieved.
The pilot departed and was unable to maintain altitude. He chose to land in a field adjacent to the airport. The airplane stalled just above the ground and then hit the ground. During a post-accident examination of the airplane, the left magneto was removed and tested. It did not produce a spark at any terminal, whilst the contact points did not open. In addition, the spark plugs connected to the left magneto did not exhibit signs of recent operation, which was consistent with an inoperative magneto. The disconnected P-leads would not have affected the right magneto’s ability to energize half of the spark plugs.
With an inoperative left magneto and a high-density altitude, the available engine power would have been reduced, and the airplane’s climb performance would have been degraded. The reduction in the available engine power, combined with the high-density altitude at the time of take-off, resulted in the airplane’s inability to maintain a positive rate of climb after lifting off.
NTSB preliminary report: Piper PA22
On 9 August 2020, a Piper PA-22-150 airplane was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Burlington, Wisconsin. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured. According to law enforcement personnel who spoke to the pilot after the accident, the pilot reported that the engine was not developing the RPMs he expected during the take-off, which resulted in a reduced rate of climb. During the attempted initial climb, the pilot performed various pitch manoeuvres to gain airspeed and lift. About one mile from the departure airport and unable to gain altitude, he pitched up the airplane to avoid two rows of trees and impacted a third row of trees. The airplane nosed down and impacted the terrain. According to witnesses and a surveillance video at the Burlington Municipal Airport (BUU), Burlington, Wisconsin, the airplane departed the turf runway 19. The airplane appeared to have a gradual take-off climb to about 30 to 35 feet above ground level. The airplane continued at that altitude before it disappeared from the witnesses’ view behind some trees south of BUU. The airplane impacted the tops of trees about one mile south of BUU and came to rest inverted in a residential yard.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Enter Air places first Boeing 737 MAX firm order of 2020
Though the Boeing 737 MAX remains grounded, the Polish charter company Enter Air placed two firm orders for Boeing 737 MAX 8, plus two optional. It is the first order registered by Boeing for its flagship aircraft since the end of 2019. Enter Air already operates an all-Boeing fleet which includes twenty-two 737-800s and two 737 MAX airliners. It is still awaiting deliveries for four 737 MAX ordered in 2015, meaning that this new deal could see its total fleet of the model reach 10 aircraft. The manufacturer and the carrier also reached a confidential agreement regarding compensation for the commercial impact of the 737 MAX grounding. Boeing has registered 398 order cancellations for the 737 MAX since the start of the year, according to a monthly report published on 11 August 2020.
Canadian regulator to test fly Boeing 737 MAX
Though the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was the first authority to test flight system revisions of the globally grounded Boeing 737 MAX, the air travel regulator Transport Canada is expected to perform its own series of test flights for the validation of the beleaguered aircraft. Reuters reported, Transport Canada would be handling a series of Boeing 737 MAX checks to certify if the airliner would be safe flying into, out of and within Canada’s airspace. The test flights will be conducted during the week starting on 24 August 2020. The tests are going to be a part of the regulator’s independent review on whether to validate changes to the aircraft proposed by Boeing, the spokesman of Transport Canada stated told Reuters. In this case, Transport Canada will become the first non-US aviation regulator to hold the tests. Prior to the Canadian authority, flight testing of MAX was performed earlier in June 2020 by the FAA that is responsible for certifying the aircraft
While the FAA tested its own list of issues, transport regulators in Canada and Europe have their own critical points. However, unlike Transport Canada, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) appears not to have any scheduled tests for the aircraft yet. According to the Seattle Times, Janet Northcote, the Head of Communications of EASA, said that the European authorities were preparing to participate in the US-led Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB). “Reportedly planned for mid-September, JOEB’s purpose will be to evaluate minimum pilot training requirements with partners from Europe and Brazil”, said Northcote.
Croatia Airlines to cancel A320neo order once again
Croatia Airlines and European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus started negotiations over the cancellation of four A320neo aircraft orders. Even though the flag carrier of Croatia has already made €8.5 million in advanced payments for the order, the airline now wants to discontinue the deal for the second time. The carrier’s aircraft technicians had begun training for servicing the two engine types used on the jet earlier in August 2019. The first batch of the two A320neos had to be delivered in 2022, while the other two jets were postponed arriving a year later, in 2023.
Croatia Airlines initiated negotiations to terminate the deal just before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Before ordering the A320neos in 2015, Croatia Airlines had made a deal on four A319 in 2008 but succeeded to convert it to the new engine option. Although the new aircraft initially had to arrive by the end of 2013, the delivery was put on hold and the deal was renegotiated once again. The main reason why the carrier suspended the delivery of new-generation engine aircraft, could become the complicated financial situation of the company at the time and repeated due to COVID-19.
Based on airfleets.net data, the current average age of Croatia Airlines’ fleet, consisting of five A319s, two A320s and six Dash 8 Q400 turboprops, amounts to 15.7 years. For comparison, according to planespotters.net, out of 255 carriers operating the A320 aircraft, Croatia Airlines ranks 223rd in terms of the age of the aircraft, while out of the 125 A319 operators, the Croatian carrier ranks 113th in the world.
Russia claims it intercepted long-retired Italian airplane
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, an Italian Breguet BR-1150 Atlantic approached its state border on 14 August, prompting the Southern Military District to scramble a Su-27 jet fighter. But the Italian Navy’s Atlantics were retired in 2017.
“An intrusion into the territory of Russian Federation was prevented. After the Italian spy plane turned away from the border, Su-27 returned to its base,” Russian National Defence Management centre claimed, as reported by the state informational agency TASS. Italian Ministry of Defence denied the presence of any of its aircraft in the region, let alone the type not operated for many years.
As noted by The Aviationist, the whole charade was most likely caused by a gross misidentification. First off, it was not an Atlantic, a maritime patrol aircraft from the 60s, but the Atlantique 2, an updated version with revised appearance and updated systems. Secondly, it belonged to the French Navy, not Italian one and was returning from the Romanian Navy Day celebrations that took place the same day.
A mix-up likely was caused by a Russian pilot misidentifying both the type of the aircraft and the roundel, as the French Marine Nationale symbol is similar to the Italian Marina Militare, but has a blue dot in the middle instead of the green, and an anchor over it.
Vistara 1st Airbus A321neo enters service
Vistara’s brand new Airbus A321neo will debut on a domestic route between Delhi and Chennai on 20 August 2020. The launch flight UK833 is scheduled between Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and Chennai International Airport (MAA). The A321neo will operate on domestic routes for a limited time, before being deployed on international routes. Vistara received the A321neo (registration number VT-TVA), the first of the kind in its fleet, on 24 July 2020. The next generation CFM LEAP-1A engines-powered aircraft is part of 50 A320 family airplanes ordered in 2018. At the time, the Indian airline had plans to deploy the plane on short to medium-haul international routes or destinations within seven hours of flying time.
Israel opposes any potential US sale of F-35 fighter jet to UAE
Despite the recently established diplomatic relations between two Middle Eastern countries, Israel opposes any potential Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters’ sales by the United States to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as it could diminish its military superiority. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced in a press release, Israel opposes US plans for a giant F-35 fighters sales deal with UAE as part of the Gulf country’s relations normalisation with Israel, underlining that the peace agreement between countries does not include any arms sales and “the US has made it clear that it will always take strict care to maintain Israel‘s qualitative edge”.
The Prime Minister has opposed the sale of F-35s and any defence technologies that could tip the military balance to any country in the Middle East, including Arab countries that already have peace agreements with Israel, as announced in a statement. Yuval Steinitz, Energy Minister of Israeli, an observer in Netanyahu’s security cabinet, noticed that previous US administrations had sold to the UAE more advanced F-16 fighter jets as well as F-15 warplanes than Israel possesses.
Secretive Boeing Loyal Wingman prepares for taxi trials
The first prototype of the stealth unmanned aerial vehicle known as the Loyal Wingman, developed by Boeing Defence Australia, was spotted on a runway for the first time. The Airpower Teaming System (ATS) was seen preparing for taxi trials at an undisclosed location, which could be the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley. The first of three prototypes of the Australian Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Programme was presented by Boeing to the Royal Australian Air Force in May 2020. Boeing presented to the Royal Australian Air Force the first prototype of unmanned fighter aircraft developed in the country and designed to fly in combat formation alongside manned fighter jets.
The 11.7-meter (38-foot) long unmanned aerial vehicle would be capable of providing fighter-like performance. Its range will be over 3,700 kilometres (2,000 nautical miles). While the armament has yet to be unveiled, it is already known that its missions will cover intelligence support, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as electronic warfare. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it should eventually be able to fly both autonomously or in support of other manned or unmanned aircraft, in swarms of four to six units. It could thus be integrated into a ‘system of systems’, one of the most sought-after features of the upcoming generation of fighter jets.
Russian bear goes plane spotting, forces S7 A320 to go around
S7 Siberian Airlines domestic flight in Russia was forced to make a go-around after a wild bear was spotted wandering around the runway of Magadan Airport. On 17 August, the flight S75219 took off from Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport (OVB) and was scheduled to land in Magadan Sokol Airport (GDX) five hours later. However, the plans got interrupted and the Airbus A320neo captain operating the flight had to perform a go-around during a final approach to Magadan after receiving information about a bear occupying the runway. Flightradar24.com data indicates, this delayed the arrival by 20 minutes. The aircraft managed to avoid the trespasser and landed safely without incident. Flight controllers were the ones who spotted the bear, local media reports indicate. Had they not, the landing may have resulted in aircraft damage or worse.
Bears are becoming notorious in Russia as avid aviation ‘admirers’. Previously, one was caught wandering through a personnel’s security gate at Yelizovo Airport (PKC) in June 2019. However, animals are not always successfully spotted in time to avoid an incident. On 14 July 2020, a Kenyan DHC-8 cargo plane flying from Djibouti Airport (JIB), Djibouti, to Beledweyne (HCMN), Somalia, crashed after failing to detect a donkey on the runway before landing. All crew members were rescued before the plane caught fire.
CAP marks 4th straight year with 100+ saves
For the fourth consecutive fiscal year, Civil Air Patrol has passed the century mark in lives saved, as credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. CAP, the official auxiliary of the US Air Force, conducts approximately 90% of all search operations within the US as assigned by the AFRCC.
The 100th and 101st save occurred 4 August when CAP’s National Cell Phone Forensics Team provided the Wyoming Joint Operations Center with a high-priority area to focus search efforts for two lost hikers in Big Horn County. Using cell phone forensic information gathered by the team earlier in the morning, local searchers found the hikers alive and returned them to safety later that morning.
CAP totalled 158 saves in fiscal 2018, a new record for lives saved in a fiscal year. In 2019 and 2017, CAP was credited with 117 and 110 saves, respectively, by the AFRCC. Since its inception in late 1941, CAP has traditionally performed search and rescue missions by operating the world’s largest fleet of single-engine piston-powered aircraft to search for missing people and overdue aircraft. More recently, it is CAP’s innovative technology, like cell phone forensics and radar analysis, that have enabled the organisation to be even more efficient in finding the lost or disoriented.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
Two US drones reportedly collided and crashed in Syria
According to a military source, two US-operated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including at least one MQ-9 Reaper attack drone, crashed after colliding over Idlib, Syria. An anonymous defence source confirmed to Military Times that the two US drones were lost in a collision. However, the cause and exact circumstances of the collision, as well as the models of the UAV involved were not disclosed. There have been speculations that the drones might have been shot down by a ground weapon, possibly a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS). Footage from the wreckage seems to indicate that at least one of the drones was an MQ-9 Reaper.
The MQ-9 is used either for reconnaissance or ground attack. It can carry a payload of 3,750 pounds and is equipped with a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. In June 2019, another US drone, a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance UAV, was shot down by an Iranian anti-air missile as it was flying over the Strait of Hormuz.
uAvionix introduces pingRX Pro for UAS
A new Detect and Avoid (DAA) ADS-B receiver for professional Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). pingRX Pro detects private and commercial aircraft operating on 978MHz and 1090MHz. The received aircraft identity, position and altitude are visualised on a moving map in real-time allowing the UAS operator or autopilot to remain well clear. By adding the protection of an aircraft-grade aluminium case and detachable remote mount antenna, pingRX Pro is the ideal ADS-B receiver for professional UAS operators who need performance, quality and flexibility for limitless UAS applications. “uAvionix has led the way in ADS-B solutions for unmanned aircraft since our founding.” said Christian Ramsey, president uAvionix Corporation. “Industry leaders and BVLOS operators continually choose ADS-B receivers as their primary DAA solution. pingRX Pro now offers manufacturers and integrators the installation flexibility they need for their enterprise aircraft.”
Weighing less than eight grams, pingRX Pro features uAvionix ping ADS-B, proven in over a half-million ADS-B solutions worldwide, from UAS to airport vehicles to certified General Aviation solutions. pingRX Pro offers an external antenna allowing operators to install the pingRX Pro anywhere on the airframe. UAS are often designed from materials that can block radio frequencies and impair radio performance. By providing an external remote mounted antenna, performance can be maximized while providing critical protection of the receiver mounted inside the fuselage.
Drones used to conduct automated inspections at Cranfield Airport
The flights make use of ‘drone-in-a-box’ technology with the aim of enabling routine inspections to take place with UAVs that can be automatically deployed, recovered and recharged without the need for an on-site pilot. For example, in the future, drones could be used to inspect other areas such as perimeter fences and take place regularly in the morning before the Airport opens and in the evening after closing to detect damage or the presence of foreign objects which can be dangerous for aircraft.
Rob Abbott, Director of Aviation Operations at Cranfield Airport, said: “As a fully-functional research airport located on a university campus, this kind of technology demonstration and development exercise is very much in our DNA. Using UAVs to conduct inspections could reduce operational costs and is another example of the work we are doing to explore and harness the potential of unmanned aircraft.”
Edward Anastassacos, Managing Director of HEROTECH8, the company providing the ‘drone-in-a-box’ system, said: “We are excited to be working on this with Cranfield Airport. We see enormous benefits to using drone-in-a-box technology for industrial inspection and monitoring applications. With Cranfield, we hope to demonstrate a continuous runway monitoring capability. These flights are a step towards fully automated, industrial drone operations at scale.”
Due to current visual line of sight (VLOS) restrictions, initial flights are inspecting half of the runway and take around 30 minutes, with the drones flying at 100 feet from the ground. Flight requests to air traffic control are made prior to each flight and then images or videos taken are combined and uploaded to cloud storage for visual review. Work is ongoing to automate the evaluation process with the use of more advanced sensors or thermal imaging cameras to detect and highlight hazards. Regulations currently always require UAVs to be operated within VLOS of the remote pilot.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)