“If you admit that to silence your opponent by force is to win an intellectual argument, then you admit the right to silence people by force.” Hans Eysenck
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was challenging to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
Position available as a magazine graphic designer
Please send your two-page CV to email@example.com. Thank you.
AERO South Africa 2023
The AERO South Africa exhibition and aviation trade show at Wonderboom National Airport wrapped up on Saturday afternoon and what an outstanding event this has been for everyone that attended. Overall, this important aviation exhibition was a significant success and I believe with the correct marketing AERO South Africa 2024 will at least double in size as more aviation businesses realize the importance of marketing their business’s not only to the significant audience of visitors, but also via the media outlets such as African Pilot.
I want to share one aerial picture that I took from an Alouette II helicopter flown by my friend Juba Joubert of the extent of this most important General Aviation exhibition. During the three days our team took plenty of pictures of nearly all the exhibition stands as well as more than two hours of video footage, which after the editing process will be published in the August edition of African Pilot.
The July edition of African Pilot with Paul Ludick’s excellent cover picture featuring Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), amateur built aircraft and South African built aircraft was published on 02 July 2023. This 264-page edition has 18 embedded videos and 17 picture galleries. African Pilot is also easy to read on all digital devices and is substantially larger by page number that any other South African aviation magazine. For advertisers, inevitability in real terms just one sale will be a great return on investment and African Pilot’s track record certainly shows that ALL advertisers within the monthly magazine continue to achieve excellent results from direct inquiries as well as significant direct hyperlinked exposure to their e-mail addresses and websites.
There were many aviation events scheduled for the month of June including the amazing Maputo airshow (exclusive), CAASA AGM (exclusive), Cosford airshow England (exclusive), interview with the winners of the PTAR 2023 (exclusive), EAA’s annual convention (exclusive), Parys airshow, the Children’s Flight Zambia and many more features. I always find it concerning when the other South African aviation magazines that do not personally attend aviation events and they simply troll social media to steal pictures and information to place second-hand reports within their own publications. This situation has happened within at least two of the local media aviation publications in the past year. There is no doubt that African Pilot strives to report personally on as many of the local and international events as possible.
Within this edition African Pilot will feature the AERO South Africa exhibition, avionics and instrumentation as well as headsets as features. However, once again African Pilot will be filled with exciting features, reports from the world as well as from within South Africa.
We completed the tenth June 2023 edition of Future Flight on Wednesday 14 June and the magazine was released to the world on the same day. This 120-page edition has six picture galleries and eight embedded videos. Due to the nature of the subject material, compiling this exciting new publication has been most rewarding, whilst at the same time, the magazine allows many of African Pilot’s advertisers to have their adverts placed in the second monthly magazine FREE of charge. When I started Future Flight on my return to South Africa from AirVenture, Oshkosh 2022, the objective was to reduce the overall size of African Pilot to a more reasonable page count and this has been achieved. The next milestone will be to attract advertisers to make this publication sustainable and I have given myself a year to reach this goal. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication:
EAA Taildraggers at Warmbaths 2023
Loftus rugby fans treated to two FlySafair Boeing 737s flyover
On 8 July FlySafair flew two Boeing 737s in formation overhead the Loftus Versfeld Stadium shortly before the Springboks kick off for their Rugby Championship campaign at the opening match against Australia. This is not the first time the airline has shown off their passion for aviation in this way. On 22 August 2022 the airline surprised rugby fans by executing a low altitude flyover in a Boeing 737 sporting iconic ‘go bokke’ livery. A similar display was performed in 2017 marking the start of the airline’s sponsorship of the Springboks.
FlySafair’s flyover team of six pilots had been planning this manoeuvre for more than two months said Captain van der Merwe was in the jump seat of the lead aircraft. “While we need to remain dynamic to account for changes in timing at the stadium, the whole team has put hours of work into planning every detail, right from determining feasibility and securing permission to developing our flight plan and selecting the pilots, all necessary steps needed to perform the flyover. Beyond the teamwork which went into planning the flight, there are several policy and administrative considerations that go into achieving such a display. The first of these is receiving approval from the director of the Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to be excused from the minimum heights regulation. This states that an aircraft may not fly low-level over an open-air assembly of persons unless it is necessary for take-off or landing. The pilots themselves also required additional training and certification. This comes in the form of a display authorisation from the SACAA. Finally, airspace and air traffic around the flyover location needed to be considered, often involving input from several different parties.
“Fortunately Loftus falls into the Waterkloof Military airspace meaning general commercial traffic would need to first seek out permission before entering,” remarked Captain van der Merwe. “This made planning slightly easier but also means that we could have been told to move away by the military base at any moment if a movement from their side is needed.”
Unfortunately, I was still at Wonderboom National Airport on Saturday afternoon preparing to pack up our show stand so I did not have an opportunity to personally witness this amazing event. However, there are several excellent videos on FlyAfrica’s website to view. Well done to FlySafair’s marketing team, you have certainly set many tongues wagging over this brilliant formation flight.
Absolute Aviation Continental engines promotion
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AERO South Africa 2023
This past week from Wednesday when our team set up for AERO South Africa to the final day on Saturday has been an incredible experience of meeting with fellow aviation professionals as well as so many of African Pilot’s subscribers and advertisers. My overall impression of this year’s AERO South Africa is that the exhibition was a success and we need to grow this General Aviation exhibition to at least double its existing size next year. In order to do this we need to strive to include many more aspects of the aviation business that include AMOs, aircraft refurbishment, flight training schools, more drone businesses as well as aviation youth development. Please enjoy this initial portfolio of pictures from AERO South Africa 2023.
Krugersdorp Flying Club Spot Landing competition 2023
By Charlie Hugo
The Krugersdorp Flying Club (KFC) annual Spot Landing competition for 2023 continues attract both aviators and spectators. With 25 entrants although only in the end only 21 competitors flew to brave the strong crosswind which played havoc with the pilots. The results showed that the aviators appeared to be going for the highest score rather than the lowest. In fact, seven of the pilots maxed their scores at 51 points against. The overall winner was Dale De Klerk flying an Explorer, ZU-ICX. Although Dale flew a total of four different aircraft his lowest score was achieved on his first session.
Too young to drive (legally) but hey, here we have a young aviator, 16-year-old Nelri Duvenhage, in her first aviation competition held her head high and showed experienced aviators how to fly. She finished in a respectable 11th position (8th if you discount Dale’s multiple aircraft) and was the first placed student pilot. Well done young lady, I am sure we will see more of your capabilities in future.
African Pilot’s 2023 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.
14 and 15 July
SAC KZN Regionals Ladysmith airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Silver Creek camp over and pancake breakfast
Contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: email@example.com
24 to 30 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 & 30 July
SAPFA Speed Rally No.3 – Louis Trichardt FALO
Contact David le Roux E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
28 & 29 July
Soutpansberg airshow Louis Trichardt FALO
Contact Jaco 082 353 6002 or Bianca 084 297 7274 at E-mail: email@example.com
29 July to 5 August
SAPFA FAI Rally Flying World Championships – Mâcon, France
Contact Leon Bouttell at E-mail: Leon@lbaa.co.za Cell: 076 294 1363
EAA Chapter 322 Saturday breakfast fly-in/ gathering 07h30 EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
South African Airways Museum Society AGM, Boeing 747SP
RSVP E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
19 & 20 August
SAC North-West Regionals Klerksdorp airfield
Contact Annie Boon at E-mail: email@example.com
19 & 20 August
SAPFA Speed Rally No4 Groblersdal airfield
Contact David le Roux at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
Children’s Flight at Orient airfield, Magaliesberg
Contact Felix Gosher E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 086 191 4603
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering 07h30 Auditorium Rand Airport
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 and 3 September
Rand airshow over two days
Contact manager Kevin van Zyl Tel: 011 827 8884
5 to 7 September
Commercial UAV Expo, Las Vegas, USA
Contact E-mail: Berndtson@aol.com
Virginia Durban airshow
Contact Brendan Horan E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 078 486 6888
Helicopter fly-in to Krugersdorp airfield
Contact David le Roux PilotInsure E-mail: David@pilotinsure.co.za
MAYDAY-SA Industry Dinner Serengeti Estate, Kempton Park
Contact Jaco van der Westhuizen E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
13 & 14 September
Aviation Africa Abuja, Nigeria
Contact Alison Weller E-mail: email@example.com
Vans RV fly-in at Kitty Hawk
Contact Frank van Heerden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
16 & 17 September
SAC Limpopo Regionals Phalaborwa airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
Saldanha West Coast airshow
Contact Clive Coetzee E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 614 1675
Gabon Air Force to acquire a C295 transport aircraft under a loan agreement
Recently Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba approved the purchase / loan an Airbus C295 military transport aircraft for the country’s Air Force. The decision for the loan to be secured from Spain’s Santander Bank was taken during a recent cabinet meeting. The meeting approved a draft legal text from the executive requesting authorisation to go ahead with the plan. According to the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the President requested the government to approve the loan in line with the country’s constitution. The acquisition accounts for about 20% of Gabon’s 2023 defence budget.
Gabon’s Air Force already flies a CN235M, which first flew in 1991. It was recently overhauled by Airbus in Spain. Several C-130 Hercules / L-100s remain in storage. The Air Force has few serviceable aircraft aside from a Puma, three Gazelles, an ATR 42 (for VIP use), a Falcon 900 (for VIP use). The fighter force comprises six former South African Air Force Mirage F1 AZ fighters; to further assist training fighter pilots, South Africa supplied two MB326 Impalas in 2013. The Garde Republicaine Gabona flies a couple of EC135T2+ helicopters, two EC120Bs and an EC225LP Super Puma.
CH-4 UAVs to be operated by DRC
After ordering nine CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the latest African nation to place the CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into service. Three CH-4s and a ground control station were seen at N’Dolo Airport in Kinshasha in a video that circulated last month, with one spotted taxiing past a hangar where another two were parked. Satellite imagery appears to indicate a new hangar for the UAVs had been completed by May this year, with a taxiway leading off the main runway. Three CH-4s were apparently delivered from China in May out of an order for nine, Africa Intelligence reported, with remaining deliveries by year-end.
The UAVs have been acquired to help combat rebels in the conflict-ridden DRC and form part of numerous other arms sales aimed at bolstering the DRC’s armed forces. For example Paramount South Africa will be supplying six Mwari light combat aircraft. The CH-4 was introduced in 2011 and has been in Chinese military service since 2014. The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 1 330 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The CH-4 has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours. It can carry varied armament including cluster bombs, guided bombs and missiles.
The CH-4 has been acquired by Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while China’s similar Wing Loong is in service in Morocco and Egypt. Algeria is a significant user of Chinese UAVs and took delivery of five CH-3s for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and five-armed CH-4s, whilst five-armed CH-5s and Wing Loong IIs will also be delivered. Nigeria received several CH-3A UAVs in 2014 to combat Boko Haram terrorists and is taking delivery of two Wing Loong II, four CH-4 and two CH-3 aircraft. Nigeria’s military is also getting Bayraktar TB2 UAVs from Turkey.
The unwillingness of the United States to supply export customers with armed UAVs means that nations like China are stepping in to fill the gap. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) notes that China has delivered 282 combat UAVs to 17 countries over the last decade, making it the world’s top seller of armed UAVs while the United States has only delivered 12 combat UAVs (to France and the United Kingdom) during the same time periods.
American couple dies in airplane crash in Botswana
An American couple in their 60s, who were on holiday in Botswana, died in a light aircraft accident on a farm near Ghanzi during take-off on Thursday 29 June 2023. Botswana Television News reported that Mike and Kim Champagne, aged 64 and 65 as well as two pilots who are said to be Botswana residents were travelling in a GA-8 Airvan. They were in the process of taking off from a runway on the Eaton and Sons farm when plane crashed into a building and burst into flames. Assistant Superintendent Montsho Kgope of Ghanzi police says the Champagne couple died while the pilots were taken to the Ghanzi Primary Hospital with severe burn wounds. On social media, aviation enthusiasts speculated on how the plane managed to crash into a building while they had the use of a runway that is two km long.
British Airways passengers stabbed with a broken wine bottle during flight to St Lucia
On Monday passengers, crew and the plane were left bloody after a fight broke out on a British Airways flight from London to St. Lucia. According to reports, an angry passenger broke a wine bottle in the galley and used it to stab another passenger after arguing with the passenger for most of the flight.
The BA crew were forced to intervene in the altercation and restore order to the flight not long before it touched down at its destination on the Caribbean Island nation. After risking their safety to break apart the bloody fight, crew members used their first response training to aid the injured passenger.
Passengers interviewed by British press claimed the crew did little to prevent the fight, even claiming they added fuel to it by supplying the assailant and his friends with an ‘endless supply’ of alcohol during the journey that lasted more than eight hours. ‘The main aggressor was behaving terribly in the lead up to the incident, the BA staff were perhaps too intimidated to regain control but the atmosphere was clearly leading to some kind of incident’ a female passenger told the Daily Mail. ‘A handful of men were lingering at the back of the plane for hours, loudly partying with an endless supply of alcohol provided by the BA staff. They approached numerous women on the flight, a fellow passenger and I were grabbed by the arm when we passed by and pulled back as they tried to engage us. Staff saw this and did not intervene, contributing to the escalating atmosphere.’ Both men were arrested by police in St. Lucia.
Pilot killed in Mille Lacs Lake Icon A5 accident identified
The pilot and sole occupant of a single-engine ICON A5 that went down in east-central Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake on Frida 30 June 2023 has been identified as Ryan Comer (47) of Blane, Minnesota. Mille Lacs County Sheriff Kyle Burton reported personnel of his department recovered Mr. Comer’s body from approximately 26-feet of water some eight hours after the 13h50 CDT mishap.
The ICON A5 is an amphibious, two-seat, Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) designed and produced by Vacaville California’s ICON Aircraft. The first production specimen of the model was publicly debuted at AirVenture 2014. Customer deliveries of the A5 commenced in 2016 and were marred by the disclosure of a purchaser’s agreement comprising controversial terms the likes of contractually mandated pilot-training; agreements to not sue ICON and the compulsory inclusion, in every aircraft, of a cockpit camera and recorder by which pilots’ and passenger’s behavior were to be monitored in perpetuity. What is more, subject camera and recorder remained the property of ICON despite the fact upkeep and maintenance of such were incumbent upon aircraft owners. ICON A5 buyers were also contractually obligated to be ‘supportive’ of the company. In the case of resale, future owners were required to sign the self-same agreement or face penalties. Confronted with the agreement, several A5 position holders reportedly cancelled their purchases of the aircraft.
Initial reports stated the accident-aircraft and a second ICON A5 piloted by a friend of Comer’s departed Minnesota’s Anoka County Municipal Airport (ANE) at approximately 13h00 CDT for purpose of flying to Mille Lacs Lake and executing water landings prior to continuing to Minnesota’s Aitkin Municipal Airport (AIT), the pair’s destination. The Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office stated the aircraft piloted by the decedent’s friend landed successfully. However, Comer’s ICON A5 crashed on or shortly after touchdown on the lake’s surface. Sheriff Burton remarked: “These two were very close friends, they were both flying the same type of aircraft. The friend was flying about a quarter mile behind the crashed one and he was able to see the impact when it hit the water.”
On the morning of Saturday, 1 July, Burton prevailed upon the public for assistance, asking parties in possession of security camera footage capturing the incident to provide such to the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office. Video evidence will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board for use in its investigation of the accident. Sheriff Burton thanked several agencies by which his department was assisted.
Iraqi Airways takes delivery of its first Dreamliner
Boeing delivered first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Iraqi Airways, making it the first of 10 eventual aircraft in the carrier’s fleet. The delivery follows four 737 MAX aircraft handed over since February this year, with more on the way. Iraqi Airways has ordered a total of six 737-8s and ten 737-10s, providing its single-aisle fleet with more capability across its regional and medium-haul routes. The line currently offers service to 45 destinations from its home base in Baghdad, with plans to capitalise on Iraqi growth. Its competitors have seen a 40% increase in traffic from 2022 numbers and with a 7% climb in domestic GDP, Iraqi Airways thinks it has a fine shot at chewing out increased market share throughout the Middle East.
Emirates launches massive recruitment campaign to fill 180 unique roles
Emirates has announced its latest recruitment drive on the back of recovering air traffic figures worldwide and much like everything else at Emirates, its latest hiring campaign is set to be massive. Emirates ended its financial year on 31 March 2023, with more than 100,000 employees and welcomed more than 17,000 new people throughout the year. The airline is now hoping to catch the eye of a wide variety of professionals once again and expects to cover vacancies in at least 180 different roles across the company, including pilots, crew, technicians and customer service staff. There are jobs aplenty, but these are also fiercely competitive. The airline receives around 2.7 million applications every year from all around the world.
One of Emirates’ preferred recruitment channels is the open day, which the airline organises regularly in hundreds of cities on all continents. This time is no different and an entire schedule is already in the works, with different sets of dates and locations depending on the professional profiles being sought. An online information session for prospective pilots will take place on 19 July 2023, at 13h00 Dubai time, with the next in-person events to follow in August across the United Kingdom and Ireland (including Dublin, Manchester, London Gatwick and London Stansted airports). Emirates has already held similar events in Budapest, Madrid and Lisbon this year.
The call for pilots comes with the extra incentive. As soon as next year the Dubai-based airline will be inducting new aircraft types into its fleet, including the Airbus A350 from 2024 and the Boeing 777X as soon as it becomes market-ready. There are also opportunities for engineers, technicians and MRO personnel, with up to 475 vacancies on offer. Open days for these professional profiles will be held in July and August 2023, in Australia, Canada, Brazil South Africa and the UK.
With commercial aviation being increasingly digitised, demand is also strong for IT professionals, with 400 jobs for the taking, including software engineers, cybersecurity and digital product management. Finally, the always important customer service department is also recruiting across the board. In a press release, Emirates recommended checking the airline’s careers website for more information about the different jobs available. What seems certain is that Emirates is extremely confident about the prospects of long-haul travel.
Viva Aerobus to acquire 90 new A321neo airliners
Mexican ultra-low-cost airline Viva Aerobus has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for ninety A321neo aircraft with which the Monterrey International Airport-based air-carrier seeks to drive its international and domestic growth. The newly signed MoU brings the airline’s order-book to 170 A320 family aircraft.
Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua stated: “These ninety A321neo, 240-seater aircraft will allow us to grow and renew our fleet and remain the youngest in Latin America. The technology and operational efficiency of the A321neos will improve our operational reliability, on-time performance and provide an unmatched passenger experience.” Airbus International Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said “The Mexican leisure market is in full recovery mode and Viva Aerobus is at the center of the action. The unbeatable economics of the A321neo make it the perfect choice for the airline’s ultra-low-cost model. We are pleased to have been a partner with the airline since 2013 and look forward to working together as it continues on its growth trajectory.”
Comfortably seating up to 244 passengers and incorporating new generation engines and Sharklets (Airbus’s proprietary winglet design), the A321neo is the longest fuselage member of Airbus’s single-aisle A320 family. Worldwide, A320-derivative aircraft, which include the A318, A319, A319neo, A320, A320 Enhanced, A320neo and A321neo number nearly eleven-thousand.
The A320’s noise signature and fuel-burn are respectively fifty and 25-percent lower than the consortium’s previous generation of single-aisle aircraft. Entering service with launch customer Air France in April 1988, the A320 has since competed with Boeing’s 737 family of narrow-body airliners. The A320, for better or worse, pioneered the use of digital fly-by-wire and side-stick flight controls in airliners.
Viva Aerobus has based its fleet renewal strategy on Airbus’s A320 family. In 2013, the air-carrier placed an order for 52 A320 family aircraft, at the time, the largest single order of Airbus planes by a Mexican airline. In 2018, Viva Aerobus ordered 25 additional A321neo airliners. Currently, the carrier operates a total of 74 A320 family jets. To date, Airbus has sold more than 1,150 aircraft in Latin America and the Caribbean, a number representative of the consortium’s sixty-percent market-share of the region’s in-service passenger aircraft.
Kansas City flight school signs for 30 Tecnam trainer aircraft
On 4 July Tecnam announced it has secured a deal with Kansas City-based Kilo Charlie Aviation for a total of 30 trainer aircraft. The flight school was founded in 2020 by Robert Renfro and Drew Konicek and has 96 students. Phase one includes the first 15 aircraft, including one P2006T twin-engine four-seat aircraft with fully retractable landing gear that has already been delivered. Two more P2006Ts are scheduled for delivery, one in the third quarter of this year and the next in the first quarter of 2024.
Kilo Charlie Aviation will also receive 12 P-Mentor piston singles as part of Phase one: four in Q4 2023, four in Q1 2024 and four in Q2 2024. The P-Mentor is a two-place, fully IFR-capable aircraft, compliant with the latest CS-23 EASA & FAA requirements. ‘Phase II of 30 aircraft will follow after the last of these first 15 have been delivered,’ said Tecnam. Renfro, who serves as Kilo Charlie Aviation’s chief operating officer, said, “We have been in a two-year process trying to find the right aircraft partner for our career flight training school. Once Tecnam presented the P-mentor we knew that all the work over the last two years had to be re-evaluated and compared to this aircraft. Safety and technology are our two highest priorities here and after comparing everything it was without a doubt the best option for our school and students.” Konicek, who serves as the flight school’s chief business officer, added, “When we met with Tecnam for the first time we were unfamiliar with their organisation or aircraft. Immediately we knew that we had found a true partner.”
United CEO openly criticises the FAA
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby impugned the Federal Aviation Agency’s decision to cancel thousands of flights over the 24-25 June weekend on account of less-than-perfect weather. The cancellations and delays affected more than 150,000 United Airlines customers. In a 26 June e-mail to United employees, Kirby set forth the FAA had ‘failed’ the airline by ordering flight cancellations and delays at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in response to weather conditions United amid difficult weather conditions the agency ‘as historically been able to manage.’ Kirby continued: “I am frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us over that weekend. As you know, the weather we saw in EWR is something that the FAA has historically been able to manage without a severe impact on our operation and customers.” Responding to Kirby’s criticisms, the FAA stated: “We will always collaborate with anyone seriously willing to join us to solve a problem.”
Kirby’s umbrage derives of more than 715 cancelled flights, of which upwards of 270 were to have been operated to or from EWR, United Airline’s New York-area hub. Notwithstanding a charter by dint of which the FAA is tasked with overseeing US domestic air traffic, the agency, of late, has fallen short of effectively exercising its duties. The FAA ascribes its derelictions primarily to staff shortages. However, aviation industry stakeholders broadly maintain the agency is terminally afflicted with endemic disorganisation and obsolescence. A brief assessment of Polly Trottenberg, the FAA’s current Acting Administrator and Katie Thomson, the agency’s Deputy Administrator, substantiates notions that the FAA suffers from an acute want for germane aviation expertise. Trottenberg, formerly responsible for New York City’s roadways and bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfares and Thomson, a former Amazon attorney do not have a single flight hour between them and would likely reach for their nine-irons at the mention of a localiser back-course.
In March 2023, the FAA issued a notice in which the agency warned that an air traffic controller shortage at its New York TRACON could disrupt summer travel. According to subject notice, the FAA had reached only 54-percent of its staffing goal for the location. Controllers at the facility, known in FAA parlance as N90 provide air traffic services for John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
Kirby advised United employees he will work with the FAA and the Department of Transportation to prevent infrastructural disruptions to the coming 2023 summer travel season. However, the United CEO stressed that responsibility for remedying the FAA’s inadequacies lies with the agency itself.
No news to report in this edition.
Archer hosts Federal AAM interagency working group
The California-based designer of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Archer Aviation hosted the Federal Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Interagency Working Group (FAAMIWG) at its Salinas, California flight-test installation. The delegation of federal bureaucrats featured upwards of seventy persons representing the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the White House, the FAA, NASA, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other federal agencies. The assemblage met with Archer’s upper management for the stated purpose of learning more about the company’s approach to aircraft design, safety and certification. Event attendees also witnessed a live flight-test of Archer’s Midnight, a piloted, five-occupant eVTOL evolved from an antecedent Archer design known as Maker, from which the former aircraft inherited its 12-total / tilt-six rotor configuration.
Convened to meet the requirements of October 2022’s Congressional Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act, the Federal AAM Interagency Working Group supports, ostensibly, the goal of safely integrating inchoate Advanced Air Mobility vehicles and infrastructure into the US National Airspace System (NAS). In addition, the Group is tasked with ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership position in the aerospace industry. Due to its oversight and regulatory agency, the FAAMIWG is intended to foster new transportation options; promote economic investment, activity and the jobs resultant of such; advance the development of technologies germane to environmental sustainability and support both competition and emergency preparedness.
Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein somewhat naively stated: “It was inspiring to see the level of support from across the federal government focused on ensuring the safe entry of eVTOL aircraft into the US market in 2025. For many of our guests, this was the first time they have been able to witness an eVTOL aircraft flight in person. Our showcase emphasized just how far along we are and demonstrated the safety and low-noise advantages of eVTOL aircraft.”
In a general sense Archer seeks to transform urban travel by replacing extant, sixty-to-ninety-minute terrestrial commutes with safe, sustainable, low-noise, ten-to-twenty-minute aerial jaunts. Mr. Goldstein and his team intend to achieve their utopian ideal by way of Archer’s Midnight eVTOL, the deployment strategy of which is predicated upon an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) model comprising twenty-mile back-to-back routes conducted in rapid succession. As Midnight’s design targets a one-hundred-mile-per-charge range, numerous such legs could be flown by a single aircraft. For initial UAM operations, Archer said it will rely on existing infrastructure, such as the Manhattan heliport, which anchors a route to and from Newark and Vertiport Chicago, a facility that will presently serve as the hub for an air-taxi route between the crumbling metropolis’s downtown Loop warzone and O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Goldstein concluded: “Over time, we will build more infrastructure or work with companies to build more infrastructure.”
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Schiebel Camcopter S-100 to survey French coast
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has entered into an agreement with Schiebel, the Austrian manufacturer of mine-detectors and rotary-wing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), by which the latter’s Camcopter S-100 UAS will conduct emission-monitoring and maritime-surveillance operations in northern France. Subject missions will be carried out on behalf of the General Directorate of Maritime Affairs, Fishery and Aquaculture (DGAMPA).
Stationed at CROSS (Centre Régional Opérationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage) Gris-Nez, one of seven surveillance facilities maintained by the French maritime affairs administration, the Camcopter S-100 will support French emission monitoring and maritime safety efforts, including environmental protection and response, fisheries inspection, Search and Rescue (SAR), as well as control of all relevant vessels passing through the English Channel.
CROSS Gris-Nez is the northern French Regional Center for Surveillance and Rescue at Sea and is responsible for the duties of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) on the Français side of the English Channel. To better execute the missions with which it’s been tasked, Schiebel’s S-100 is equipped with a Trakka TC-300 EO/IR (Electro-Optical / InfraRed) sensor, a Mini Sniffer emission-detector produced by Danish tech firm Explicit, a Becker Avionics BD406 Emergency Beacon Locator, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver and a Mode-S Transponder with ADS-B out.
Schiebel Group chairman Hans Georg Schiebel stated: “This area of sea is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, where 24/7 monitoring of all maritime activities is essential. Schiebel’s S-100 has supported numerous maritime authorities to date, with EMSA being one of our most prestigious customers.”
Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is a relatively large, all-weather, day-and-night, unmanned rotorcraft in broad use with worldwide civilian and military operators. The machine is powered by a 55-horsepower, Austro AE50R Wankel (rotary) engine that turns a single, 3.4-meter (11-foot two-inch) main-rotor with sufficient vigour to motivate the contraption’s titanium and carbon-fibre fuselage to speeds and altitudes as high as 120-knots and FL180 respectively. Notwithstanding its maximum gross take-off weight (MGTOW) of two-hundred-kilograms (441-pounds), the S-100 typically carries a 75-pound payload for up to ten-hours on a 57-liter tank of either 100-LL Avgas or JP-5. Camcopter operators guide the UAS via high-definition imagery transmitted to a ground-based control station in real-time. In addition to standard GPS waypoint or manual navigation, the S-100 can operate in non-GPS environments by dint of a simple, point-and-click graphical user interface.
Israeli firm Smartshooter unveils remote weapon station-radar combo to hunt drones
Smartshooter, an Israeli firm that makes fire control systems for rifles and remote weapon stations, unveiled a new tech combination to combat small UAVs at the Modern-Day Marine event this week, joining its Hopper Light Remotely Controlled Weapon Station with DRS RADA Technologies’ MHR radar. Both systems are already operational separately, but Smartshooter hopes by combining them, they can offer a new c-UAS system amid rising global interest in the capability. “The integration of our Hopper with the RPS-42 radar provides a very effective end-to-end solution to neutralise drones swiftly, ensuring the protection of personnel and critical assets,” said Michal Mor, Smartshooter CEO, in a statement. “Shortening the sensor-to-shooter cycle, this advanced solution enhances the force’s situational awareness and survivability and takes air defence to a new level.”
Sharone Aloni, the vice-president for research and development at the company, said that though they worked on this combination over time and it is not yet operational, this is the first time they are revealing it to potential customers. The Smash Hopper is essentially a rifle and mounting system that the company says can be fitted to a tripod, vehicle or maritime vessel and can engage targets based on a remote operator’s commands. The radar made by Rada, another Israeli firm, is designed to detect drones at a distance of several kilometres and then alert a combat unit, for instance, that there is a threat. Combined, the gun can ‘slew and cue’ in a hand-off from the radar. “In such a way the weapon is pointed in the right direction and ready to engage when the drone reaches the rifle’s range. It is a kind of early warning system so the system can be ready to engage the target,” said Aloni in an interview. But there is always a person in the loop, Aloni said.
Detection against small drone threats is increasingly important as countries and militant groups use drones in a variety of ways. These can be commercial drones with a link to the operator, which can sometimes be jammed or spoofed, but autonomous drones and other similar threats can require a hard kill solution. Smartshooter’s Smash 2000L, a rifle-mounted fire control system that has already been tested by the Marines. Aloni said the company sees US Marines as one of the most important branches of the US defence community. The system is not operational but has been tested and verified, the company says. “It is ready to go, the SMASH Hopper and actually both systems are combat proven, both have been used operationally, on their own.”
The Hopper uses a 5.56mm or 7.62 calibre rifle, but Aloni said in the future it could be paired with light machine guns. Aloni envisioned one particular potential use for the Marines: adding the Smart Hopper on the Marines’ MADIS air defence system, which already uses a Rada RPS-42 radar and is vehicle-mounted. Using a “system like that on a mobile platform is very attractive,” Aloni said.
Ukraine accused of deploying drones in attack near Moscow airport
On 4 June Russia has claimed Ukraine attacked Moscow with at least five drones, forcing it to shut down one of the capital’s main airports for a few hours. More than 14 flights were cancelled from Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) or redirected to other airports in the capital, including those from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, after an early attack at 06h00 local time. According to the country’s defence ministry four Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ‘were destroyed by air defence systems’, while another was ‘suppressed by means of electronic warfare’ and crashed in Kubinka, which is about 36 kilometres from Vnukovo airport.
Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, called the attack an ‘act of terrorism’ and blamed Western countries and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France, for financing the ‘terrorist regime’. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
On the same day as the attacks on Moscow, Russia’s armed forces carried out yet another drone strike on Ukraine. The attack targeted the port city of Kherson at 06h00 am, local time, resulting in two deaths after residential buildings were damaged. Similar attacks against Ukrainian cities have been a weekly or even daily recurrence since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022. On 30 May 2023, Russia accused Kyiv of attacking Moscow with multiple drones for the first time. At the time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied the country had been directly involved in the attacks but had enjoyed watching the situation unfold.
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