“Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others.” Doris Lessing
Piper PA-48 Enforcer: Resembling a P-51 Mustang but re-engineered with a 2,445 shp turboprop, a new airframe and new systems, the PA-48 Enforcer was the meanest Piper ever built. Over the years, many aircraft types have evolved into far more capable machines by having their existing piston engines replaced with turboprop powerplants. The Piper Malibu, for example, gained better performance and reliability when the turboprop variant was introduced as the Mirage. Similarly, the Beechcraft Queen Air, de Havilland Beaver and Douglas DC-3 all saw corresponding performance gains as turbine-powered derivatives.
Decidedly less common is the initiative to reimagine a World War II-era fighter as a modernised, turboprop attack aircraft and market it to the government. This, however, is precisely what happened in the form of the Piper PA-48 Enforcer. First flown in 1971, four prototypes were built and demonstrated until their retirement in 1984.
The concept of modifying and remanufacturing P-51s began in the 1950s. At that time, the National Guard retired the last of the active-duty examples, making them available for purchase on the open market at bargain prices. A company called Trans Florida Aviation saw a business opportunity.
Their strategy targeted two potential customers. First, they would offer civilian versions with the military equipment stripped out and replaced with additional fuel tanks and luxurious interiors. Second, they would modify existing military Mustangs with new avionics and weapons systems, optimising them for ground attack, close air support and counter-insurgency missions.
These Mustangs were renamed the Cavalier Mustangs and a total of 19 were produced for a variety of civilian and military customers. In the late 1960s, the owner of the company became interested in a turboprop variant and fitted a military Cavalier Mustang with a 1,630 shp Rolls-Royce Dart 510. However, no sales resulted and ultimately, only one entity could be convinced of the airplane’s potential.
That entity was none other than Piper Aircraft, which purchased the rights to the turboprop Mustang and continued to develop the concept. Beginning with two existing Cavalier Mustangs, Piper installed massive, 2,445 shp Lycoming YT-55-L-9 turboprop engines. While the addition of nearly 1,000 horsepower surely increased the airplane’s capability, commonality was presumably also touted to the US military; this was the same engine found in the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. With a completely re-manufactured airframe and revamped systems, the PA-48’s similarity to the P-51 was almost entirely visual.
Piper went on to construct two clean-sheet versions of the aircraft and named all four examples the PA-48 Enforcer. Each was fitted with a modified Douglas Skyraider propeller and each airframe was enlarged, as were the wings and tails. To ease manoeuvring at high speeds and low altitudes, the ailerons were equipped with a boost system from a Lockheed T-33 jet, whilst the rudder was equipped with a yaw damper. Despite being visually similar to the original P-51, the modified aircraft were said to have less than 10 percent parts commonality with the old fighter.
With six underwing hardpoints capable of carrying nearly three tons of armament, the recipe seemed perfect for the ground attack and counter insurgency roles. Unfortunately, even after successfully performing test flights and demonstrations in the early 1980s, the military did not agree. Both PA-48s were ultimately retired and placed on display in museums. N482PE has been restored and is on display at the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base in California. For many years, N481PE was on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. However, more recently it has been transferred to the Pima Air & Space Museum, where it is located outdoors in the Arizona sun.
Those persons that correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft: Dave Lloyd, Cecil Thompson, Righardt du Plessis, Clint Futter, Laurence Hardman, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Ari Levien, James Mc Alpine, Marthinus Potgieter, Rennie van Zyl, Wouter van der Waal, Colin Austen, Steve Dewsbery, Michael Schoeman, Rudi Esterhuizen, Bob Gurr, Erwin Stam, Rex Tweedie, Kevin Farr, Ahmed Bassa, Ret Orsmond, Wouter de Graaf, Hilton Carroll, Charlie Hugo, P Rossouw, Alf Ljungqvist, Jean Crous, Jan Sime, Brian Ross, Sandy Ord, Mike Transki, Selwyn Kimber, Danie Viljoen, Karl Jensen, Stuart Low, Johan Venter, Nic Manthopoulos, John Moen, Carl von Ludwig, Mickey Esterhuysen, Tony Smit, Aiden O’Mahony, Johan Prinsloo, Zack Fourie, Gregory Yatt, Fanie du Plessis, Pierluigi Ferro, Greg Pullin, Kirsten Johnstone, Marcel Nijdam, (50)
The July 326-page edition of African Pilot featuring our popular Light Sport Aircraft, Amateur Built Aircraft and South African built aircraft was released to the global audience on Thursday last week. The July edition features 22 Videos and 10 Picture galleries. This edition also features the annual EBACE exhibition, Newcastle and Parys airshow reports and the Sports Aerobatics Nationals staged at Wings Park in East London all with videos.
African Pilot will be publishing its annual Avionics and Instrumentation and will include our annual headset review within the August 2022 magazine. The feature to be contained within the digital interactive magazine is an opportunity for all avionics, instrumentation, headset re-sellers, installers and panel upgrade companies to showcase their work.
The feature provides an important shop window for advertisers to display products and their abilities in a focused manner which includes editorial content to cover the features of their business.
Wallpaper calendar for the month of July. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
Airlink to launch Johannesburg-Victoria Falls flights
From 15 August Airlink will launch daily direct return flights between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls reconnecting the region’s main economic hub with the iconic tourism destination. This follows approvals by Zimbabwe’s and South Africa’s aeronautical authorities for the extension of Airlink’s already comprehensive services between the two markets. Airlink’s flights will operate daily using a modern 98-seat Embraer E-190 jetliner and are scheduled to conveniently connect with its other services to and from its Johannesburg main base as well as to long-haul flights provided by Airlink’s growing number of global partner airlines.
Airlink leases three E195s from Nordic Aviation Capital
South Africa-based regional airline Airlink has signed a lease agreement with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for three Embraer E195 aircraft amid capacity volatility in South Africa’s domestic market. The deal comes at a time of growing demand for domestic airline capacity in South Africa following the collapse of Comair. Prior to its flight suspension, it was estimated that Comair served around 40% of South Africa’s domestic market. Emirates and Airlink have officially activated their codeshare partnership amid high demand in South Africa’s domestic market. With a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, Airlink operates the largest African fleet of Embraer ERJ’s and E-Jets. Airlink’s fleet consists of 21 ERJ-190s, 28 ERJ-135s, three ERJ-170s and now three ERJ-195s.
ACSA unveils mobile airport App for a smooth passenger journey
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is excited to announce the launch of its new and innovative mobile App, which is aimed at enhancing the customer experience for ACSA passengers as they move through the company’s airports or seek travel-related information. The ACSA App is available for free download on Apple, Google and Huawei App stores. The App was launched on 1 July 2022.
“The App, which was designed to make the passenger airport experience easier and seamless, has considered the needs of our customers when getting ready to take a flight. Passengers can get all the information they require when travelling, at the touch of a button,” says Mthoko Mncwabe, Chief Information Officer at ACSA.
Registration is easy and simple and we have taken into consideration the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and data privacy and passengers can also unlock their ultimate airport guide by using their email address, Google details, Facebook or Twitter accounts to sign up. Once registration is complete, users will simply need their email address and password to sign into the App when they need to transact.
Customers can view and search for flights by airport or use advanced search to get flight information for future flights. This functionality also allows passengers to subscribe to a flight to receive notifications on their flight status. “Travellers can also pre-book parking at ORTIA and pay for parking tickets easily by using the App. Save your vehicle and card details for easy access and payment for parking. This functionality also allows you to save your vehicle location, so you never get lost in any airport again,” adds Mncwabe.
Mncwabe notes that the Airport Guide on the ACSA App is a feature that allows passengers to search and navigate to a point of interest inside the airport. So, a passenger will not waste time asking where to find their favourite restaurant when they have the ACSA App. Furthermore, all airport facilities and services are listed for ease of reference.
The App’s Health and Safety feature is functionality that prioritises the health and safety of ACSA’s passengers. It provides access to the clinic, current COVID-19 protocols in ACSA’s airports and its medical call-out procedures for all emergencies. COVID testing service providers are also listed for your convenience. We are also allowing travellers to book and store the results of their PCR test when travelling through ORTIA.
“Also, we value the voice of our passengers, hence we are allowing our customers to give us feedback directly through the customer feedback functionality on the ACSA App. Add to this, customers can also respond to short surveys regarding their satisfaction levels,” says Mncwabe. Importantly, he adds, customers can receive instant and consistent support to all their queries on the ACSA App through the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbot on the platform. They can also directly interact with ACSA’s customer service agents using the App’s intuitive chat interface.
“The launch of this App is part of ACSA’s digital transformation drive that is central to enhancing the modern customer experience. With this innovative and convenient to use the digital platform, our passengers can not only look forward to a smooth customer journey but also receive all the information they need to move through our airports with ease and efficiency,” Mncwabe concludes.
Sling High Wings From Joburg To Oshkosh And On…
Slingers, the Oshkosh community has now been waiting three years for the beauty of the Sling High Wing to grace its skies and exhibition spaces. This year, IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN with the expected departure date Saturday 16 July! We invite everyone to follow our trip by tracking our progress as we go – each airplane will have an IndigoDUO Hybrid Satellite Tracking and Messaging Device from IndigoSat, which will plot onto a world map live, and which will be found on our website once installed, tested and live!
Visit our Sling High Wings Expedition Page via our blog for full information, regular updates and tracking now!
Garden Route airshow at George airport (CANCELLED)
Contact Brett Scheuble Cell: 084 418 3836
To be re-scheduled in August – dates to follow
African airline sector: innovate and integrate, or be left behind
Last week the 40th Southern African Transport Conference heard that the African airline sector urgently needs to embrace rapid regulatory and technological change if it is to be competitive. Dr Joachim Vermooten, an aviation economist and research associate at the University of Johannesburg department of transport and supply chain management, delivered this critical assessment of the industry as he presented the plenary address on day three of the conference. Dr Vermooten said that the global aviation industry was transforming rapidly, due to changes necessitated by Covid-19, economic headwinds and climate change.
The African industry’s share of global revenue per passenger kilometres has remained at a tiny 2% for several years, symptomatic of the rut the continent’s air transport is trapped in. Dr Vermooten said the reasons for this include a lack of flexibility, outmoded thinking and regulations that prevent the region from integrating its airline services. “In Africa, airlines are trapped in relatively small economic territories where they just cannot attract sufficient demand for the size of their operational set-up,” said Vermooten.
He said other geographic economic communities were outperforming Africa because of the continent’s inability to implement its oft-expressed vision of an integrated regional economy. “At the moment, Africa is missing out on the opportunities of open internal market integration, as well as the benefits of more competition,” says Dr Vermooten. “The Single African Air Traffic Market (SAATM) is still trying to implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration for open skies. Until these visions become reality, we will struggle to capture more of the global market.”
Dr Vermooten said he hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, passed in 2018, would be a catalyst for a real single internal market. For airlines, a key part of this would be cabotage rights, which allow an airline from one country to operate on domestic routes in another country. “This kind of innovation is needed for Africa to assert itself in the world airline economy,” said Dr Vermooten. “We are the world’s second largest continent and the second most populous. We need to catch up.”
Dr Vermooten said it was all the more urgent for Africa to streamline and integrate because the global industry was reinventing itself at high speed. The Covid-19 pandemic had shown the inefficiencies of state regulators operating independently, he said. Now, the role and guidance of international institutions was being re-established and regional economic groupings being fostered. Dr Vermooten said that despite a global recovery from the abysmal lockdown years, load factors were expected to remain below break-even point. However, there were opportunities in the air freight area. “But new opportunities require rapid response and rapid regulatory enablement,” said Dr Vermooten. “There needs to be more recognition of licences and operators’ permits by different licensing authorities and consolidated operational and safety oversight on a regional basis to avoid duplication.”
Dr Vermooten also pointed out that environmental commitments were also going to lead to rapid, fundamental change. “Several measures are being implemented to reach carbon-neutral growth at 2020 levels,” said Dr Vermooten. “These include new technology and operational improvements, but the largest contribution is likely to come in the area of sustainable aviation fuels and CORSIA (The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. “An aspirational and aggressive technology perspective will see the advent of zero-emission electric aircraft powered by green hydrogen and hybrid-electric larger aircraft,” said Dr Vermooten. He stressed that while there are opportunities for Africa in all of these changes, if Africa fails to integrate and streamline its regulations, it risks being left even further behind.
Super Hornet blown overboard from carrier
Someone on the Navy carrier USS Harry S. Truman has some explaining to do after one of its F/A-18s was blown off the deck. The Navy confirmed the mishap occurred 8 July in the Mediterranean while the ship was undergoing a replenishment-at-sea. The Navy did not release any details but said it happened during ‘unexpected’ heavy weather. One sailor was injured but is expected to make a full recovery. The fighters are secured to the deck with chains and it is not clear how this one got loose. The Navy said the replenishment was stopped but the carrier remains mission capable. There is, of course, an investigation. Depending on the model and configuration, Super Hornets cost between $30 million and $60 million.
Spirit Airlines A320 catches fire in Atlanta after its landing gear overheated
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 passenger plane caught fire while landing in Atlanta, US, after its landing gear overheated. The incident occurred on 10 July 2022, when the Spirt Airlines Airbus A320-200 passenger plane, registered N693NK, operating domestic regular flight NK383 from Florida, touched down in Atlanta. According to flight history found on Flightradar24.com, the aircraft took off from Tampa International Airport (TPA) at 08h05 (UTC) and landed at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on time at 09h18 (UTC). Firefighters from Atlanta Fire Rescue rushed to the scene. After the fire was extinguished, the A320 jet was towed to the gate where passengers were able to safely disembark. Airport officials also confirmed there were no injuries. The incident did not result in any delays or cancellations. The 3.6-year-old plane was temporarily removed from service to undergo detailed inspection and maintenance.
‘Ad hoc changes to flight test plan’ contribute to ZeroAvia electric Piper crash
According to a report just released by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), the electric ZeroAvia Piper Malibu Mirage which crashed near Cranfield Airport last year lost electrical power to both motors when the power source was changed. The modified PA-46-350P was at a point in the Cranfield circuit which meant the aircraft could not safely glide to the runway and the pilot made an off-airport forced landing. The crew were unhurt but the aircraft was severely damaged.
The AAIB said a number of factors contributed to the accident including ‘ad hoc changes being made to the flight test plan’ without the knowledge of the competent person in charge of the tests under E Conditions. The AAIB went on to say, “The competent person’s involvement was restricted in a number of areas due to issues within the organisational relationships, the fast tempo of the project, other work commitments and restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The operator’s chief executive and the flight test director took on the day-to-day management responsibility for much of the programme. However, neither individual had the necessary safety and flight test experience for that role and their focus was primarily on meeting key project targets.”
The loss of power occurred during an interruption of the power supply when, as part of the test procedure, the battery was selected to OFF with the intention of leaving the electrical motors solely powered by the hydrogen fuel cell. During this interruption, the windmilling propeller on the aircraft generated voltage that was high enough to operate the inverter protection system. This then locked out the power to the motors and the pilot and observer were unable to reset the system and restore electrical power.
Ukraine International Airlines sues Iran over shot-down flight PS752
Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) filed a lawsuit in the Ontario Supreme Court, in Canada, against the Islamic Republic of Iran overflight PS752, which was shot down in 2020. The lawsuit, which was seen by Radio Farda on 7 July 2022, was filed by Ukraine’s largest airline in January 2022. The airline’s lawsuit is separate to the legal action taken by families of the survivors of the downed Ukrainian plane in Tehran. The official complaint, submitted by the airline to the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice, lists two parties, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as the two defendants of the case. With the move, Ukraine International Airlines demands compensation from Iran.
At the beginning of January 2022, the court awarded more than $107 million to the families of six victims who died in the accident, after it found the downing of the plane was an intentional terrorist act perpetrated by Iran and the IRGC. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that the missiles that shot down a commercial flight in Iran were fired intentionally as an act of terrorism.
The fatal accident happened on 8 January 2022, shortly after the UIA Boeing 737-800 aircraft, registered UR-PSR, took off from Tehran (THR) on an international flight to Kyiv (KBP). However, the aircraft crashed in the territory of Iran killing all 167 passengers and nine crew members on the flight. Investigators later found out that most of the victims were Iran citizens and Canadians, but there were also 11 Ukraine passport holders. Iranian investigators confirmed the shootdown of UIA flight PS752 was due to a ‘human error’ while setting up the air defence system of Tehran.
An operator of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), stationed in Bid Kaneh, was found to have fired two missiles from a Tor-M1 surface-to-air system, which brought down the aircraft. The Civil Aviation Organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran admitted that a mistake was made while setting up the radar of the missile system after a relocation. As a result, Flight PS752’s path was shown as heading straight for Tehran, rather than away from the city, at a time when the country’s air defence was on high alert.
Boeing to showcase 737 MAX 10 and 777X at Farnborough airshow 2022
Boeing has announced that it will demonstrate its 737 MAX 10 and 777X aircraft in a flying display at Farnborough Airshow 2022, the United Kingdom. The airshow, which will take place between 18 and 22 July, will mark the 737 MAX 10’s international debut. The largest variant of the 737 MAX family, the MAX 10 will demonstrate aerial manoeuvres. The 777X will join the 737 MAX 10 in the daily flying and static display. The Farnborough Airshow will be the fourth international venue to feature the 777X. Both 777X and 737 MAX 10 aircraft will fly to the show on a blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
“In the four years since the last Farnborough Airshow, the world has seen the critical social and economic role that aerospace and defence plays. We are excited to reconnect with our colleagues at Farnborough as we address together the need for a more sustainable future and take concrete steps to enable innovation and clean technology,” said Sir Michael Arthur, president of Boeing International. In addition, Boeing’s joint venture Wisk Aero will present its unmanned all-electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL).
Van’s unveils RV-15 high-wing prototype in YouTube video
On Saturday Van’s unveiled its new RV-15 prototype in a YouTube video that gathered 7,000 views in the first few hours. The company’s first high-wing design took off in a few hundred feet and climbed briskly in the video. It’s not being billed as a ‘first flight’ but it is the first public release of details of the programme. “The cat’s out of the bag and here is what our team has been working on lately,” Van’s said in the YouTube description, “Introducing the RV-15 Engineering Test Prototype aircraft.”
The company has been working on the project for some time and the aircraft in the video is the test bed for the kits that will follow. “This airplane was built to evaluate and test the design and what we have been learning from this engineering ‘tool’ test airplane will result in refinements and changes that will appear in the final ‘kit’ aircraft design.” The plane will be officially unveiled at AirVenture on 26 July.
Sonex takes orders for ‘the lowest cost jet trainer ever’
Kit-built aircraft maker Sonex LLC said it is accepting deposits for its SubSonex JSX-2T, a two-place amateur-built personal jet. The new airplane is a development of the single-seat SubSonex JSX-2 that has been flying since 2014 and is meant in part to serve as a trainer for that model and other jets. Indeed, the company says it designed the JSX-2T to be ‘the lowest cost jet trainer ever.’ Like other models in the line of Sonex aircraft dating to the late 1990s, the latest Sonex jet highlights the continuing evolution and increasing sophistication of modern, experimental amateur-built, or E-AB. Compared with notable earlier homebuilt models like the 1930s Pietenpol Air Camper, which used a Ford Model A car engine and the Volkswagen-powered 1960s Evans VP-1 Volksplane, many of today’s E-AB’s look and feel more like factory-built, certificated aircraft.
Sonex says it is building the JSX-2T prototype and will display the aircraft at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, which officially gets underway 25 July. The company says it plans to begin flight testing this fall and to begin producing the kits during the second quarter of 2023. Deliveries of kits to customers are slated to begin during the fall or winter of 2023.
Sonex should gain some overall marketing momentum from AirVenture’s One Week Wonder project, which this year features a Sonex Waiex that amateur builders plan to complete during the weeklong gathering. Attendees at the show will get to take part in the construction process by taking turns installing rivets on the airplane.
Sanctioned jets proving to be a problem for service providers
Jet Aviation is among the service providers that are playing host to Russian private aircraft that were undergoing maintenance in its facilities when sanctions were imposed as a result of the war in Ukraine. The grounded aircraft have left the companies, with many wondering who will be paying bills that continue to mount. While the political fallout from Russia’s attack on Ukraine has had a deleterious effect on private aviation, with flights in the region down by 60-70 percent from pre-pandemic levels, it is not just aircraft operators that are being affected but service providers as well.
In a conversation at EBACE in May, David Paddock, president of Jet Aviation, noted that ‘less than 20’ Russian-owned business jets were on its properties undergoing maintenance when the sanctions resulting from Russia’s February invasion were imposed. “We had to immediately stop work on those airplanes,” he said, adding that a completions project for one of the sanctioned Russian individuals was also halted. “The impact on us is a mix of sanctioned customers as well as Russian persons and we are restricted obviously from doing business with both of those groups. We have a few hundred Russian customers that we are not touching at all right now.”
Due to US export control restrictions, the company cannot even obtain new parts for those impacted aircraft in most cases. “For example, our sister company Gulfstream will not supply parts for Russian airplanes, either sanctioned or Russian-person controlled, so therefore, we are not able to install any parts or touch those airplanes, not just in EU or UK or US airspace, but anywhere including places like Dubai and Singapore, so the U.S. export control restriction is global,” explained Paddock.
Those aircraft that were in Jet Aviation’s hangars at the time the sanctions were imposed have been removed and parked on the apron. While some service providers may be turning a blind eye toward the challenging process required to determine the ultimate ownership of the aircraft brought to them, the General Dynamics subsidiary is taking its obligations seriously.
“What we have done in the past two months is work through with all of the aviation regulatory authorities with our parent company and with the customers,” said Paddock, adding that each case is being handled on a separate basis. The company is also relying upon guidance from its internal and external counsels, as well as compliance resources from the US Commerce and State Departments.
“Some peers in the industry have been accepting basically a blanket waiver from whoever is bringing the airplane to them, saying “we as the maintenance provider are accepting whatever you are saying and we are not doing any due diligence, we are just signing and doing the work,” Paddock said. “That is not the legal advice we have been getting.”
Some of the aircraft in Jet Aviation’s care at its facilities in Basel and Geneva, Switzerland, as well as Vienna, Austria, are in the process of being sold. “Either a bank will repossess an airplane or a Russian owner will sell,” explained Paddock. “We are trying, to the degree that we can, to facilitate a legitimate transaction amongst a Russian seller and a non-Russian buyer, really to address the fact that otherwise, this airplane will sit in our facilities and nobody is paying for rent.”
Under EASA regulations, the service provider would be allowed to do preservation maintenance on the aircraft as they sit, but nothing that would add value to the airplane, yet Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation later informed Jet Aviation in writing that any such preservation work on those aircraft at any of its Swiss locations is strictly prohibited. Paddock stated that those aircraft will likely remain grounded for some time to come and that the situation his company is seeing is just a small subset of what the industry is experiencing. “We are working with EASA, the FAA and the Swiss authorities on how we are able to maintain these airplanes in the future,” he said, adding the matter was a topic of discussion during a recent board meeting of the General Aircraft Manufacturers Association for those seeking further clarity.
Ireland-based lessor SMBC chalks up US$1.6bn loss on 34 jets stranded in Russia
Owned by a consortium which includes Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Ireland based aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation Capital (SMBC) has recorded a US$3.6 billion impairment over 34 jets that became stranded in Russia after sanctions were put in place following the country’s invasion of Ukraine that basically saw all leases terminated.
According to Reuters news agency, over 400 planes were left stranded in Russia after sanctions took effect. SMBC confirmed that the write-off was based on full carrying value as the planes could not be recovered within a reasonable period of time. The lessor anticipates making significant financial recoveries through its insurance coverage. Currently Russia is still flying the planes either on domestic routes or to airports where enforced recovery would not be possible.
Excluding the sum written off, rather than making a loss of US$1.1 billion the lessor would have posted a US$336 million profit, almost at the same level as pre-pandemic 2019 when the company recorded a profit of US$365 million. SMBC remains optimistic with the current state of the market, having sold 23 aircraft in the year ending March 2022, making a US$68.3 million profit, while having also placed a combination of 41 Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jets from its order book. SMBC has also confirmed it anticipates its US$6.7 billion acquisition of Goshawk Aviation in the final quarter of the year.
ScaleBirds P-36 radial-engined replica is flying
ScaleBirds Honcho, Sam Watrous, has confirmed that their P-36 replica has now flown a number of times and outside of the usual teething pains (baffling, cooling, yada yada), the P-36 looks to have a very bright future. Overall controllability appears promising and the ground handling also appears to be on target. Instrumentation was a little off, so performance numbers are not yet available. The first flights were conducted by a respected member of the test flying community, Eliot Seguin, noting that “…you have a great little airplane here!”
The single seater looks pretty much like the original, but unique, P-36 and may also serve as a test bed for a future rendition of the P-40 (Jimmy WANTS!), but one of the best assets this bird offers is a true radial sound / feel in terms of the use of the seven-cylinder Verner Motor. “It is a Verner motor, seven cylinder, it can also handle the five cylinder. Verner does five, seven and nine right now,” Watrous notes. “The engine is a radial engine, direct drive cruise 1800 rpm, throaty rumble. Lots of torque, 124 hp that acts like a 135 or 140 hp engine.”
The aircraft is destined for kitting and Sam hopes that the birds will allow for, “Completed airplanes will be about $65,000, but the average build would probably be about $75-80,000, with normal avionics, nothing crazy.” The aircraft is now undergoing the post-test flight ‘tweaking’ process and flight testing is due to resume shortly, with an appearance at Oshkosh in the cards, where we expect it to be standing room only.
Daher acquires Florida Aerostructures plant
Last week Daher celebrated its acquisition of the now-former Triumph metallic and composite aerostructures assembly facility in Stuart, Florida. The move marks a major expansion of Daher’s US industrial presence and reinforces the company’s position as a Tier 1 aerospace supplier. Daher is retaining all 400 employees and management at the Florida division.
At a media event in Stuart, Kayat said the facility will be key to doubling the company’s US revenues to about $1 billion annually, matching that of its European operations. Because the Stuart facility manufactures large aerostructures for the Boeing 767 and 777, the move also helps to balance Daher’s work between Boeing and Airbus. In addition, the acquisition brings more Gulfstream work to Daher, adding G650 flap manufacturing at the Florida plant to its existing G700 winglet work in Europe.
Daher’s established North and South American activities include the production of Kodiak turboprops in Sandpoint, Idaho; a TBM services site in Pompano Beach, Florida; a logistics operation that supports Airbus’s commercial aircraft assembly lines in Mobile, Alabama; logistics and assembly activities in Canada; composite parts manufacturing in Nogales, Mexico and an aerostructures logistics and services facility in Querétaro, Mexico that supplies Airbus.
USAF to begin testing the first laser on a fighter jet
Lockheed Martin has announced that it has delivered the first LANCE airborne laser system to the US Air Force Research Laboratory. LANCE (Laser Advancement for Next Generation Compact Environment), which is part of the SHiELD initiative to develop direct energy weapons on USAF aircraft, has been in development since 2017. LANCE is designed as a podded system intended to be mounted on combat aircraft and capable of shooting down missiles and light aircraft.
A promotional video from Lockheed Martin, published in 2020, depicts concept images of a LANCE pod mounted on F-16 and F-35 fighters. In the video, the jets are shown using the LANCE to shoot down anti-aircraft and cruise missiles. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is tasked with developing and integrating the technologies intended to be used by the USAF.
NASA makes THE List… Cosmic targets for Webb Telescope first outing
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will soon (we hope) reveal unprecedented and detailed views of the universe, with the upcoming release of its first full-colour images and spectroscopic data. They have set forth a list of cosmic objects that Webb is targeting for these first observations, which will be released in a NASA live broadcast this Tuesday morning, 12 July. Each image will simultaneously be made available on social media as well as on the agency’s website.
These listed targets below represent the first wave of full-colour scientific images and spectra the observatory has gathered, and the official beginning of Webb’s general science operations. They were selected by an international committee of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA and the Space Telescope Science Institute.
- The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars form. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the Sun.
- WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mainly of gas. The planet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter and its discovery was announced in 2014.
- The Southern Ring, or ‘Eight-Burst’ nebula, is a planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It is nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located approximately 2,000 light years away from Earth.
- About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1877. Four of the five galaxies within the quintet are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
- SMACS 0723: Massive foreground galaxy clusters magnify and distort the light of objects behind them, permitting a deep field view into both the extremely distant and intrinsically faint galaxy populations.
The release of these first images marks the official beginning of Webb’s science operations, which will continue to explore the mission’s key science themes. Teams have already applied through a competitive process for time to use the telescope, in what astronomers call its first ‘cycle,’ or first year of observations.
Eve hosts UAM industry summit
Eve Air Mobility, the subsidiary of Brazilian air-framer Embraer and producer of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, recently brought together representatives of its customers and partners. The assemblage, which comprised more than 20 participants from over 10 countries, gathered in Lisbon, Portugal, to advance the inchoate Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry and develop standardised approaches to: general and aircraft operations, maintenance networks and parts distribution, aircraft performance, Urban Air Traffic Management (UATM), cabin design and passenger journey. Companies in attendance, which included Republic Airways, Halo Aviation, Avantto, Blade, Falko, Fahari Aviation (a subsidiary of Kenya Airways) and Bristow Group participated in multiple collaborative workshops and presentations through which information, opinions and feedback germane to UAM undertakings were exchanged and chronicled.
Eve Co-CEO Andre Stein said of the gathering: “It was incredibly constructive spending those couple of days with our customers and partners who could collaborate with insights on our UAM solutions based on their experience within their respective fields. All the feedback gathered will contribute to the evolution and maturity of our programmes, including the eVTOL, services and support and UATM software. The result was extraordinary, reinforcing that we are on the right path with our collaborative approach toward the future of urban air mobility.”
Included in the event was the unveiling of Eve’s cabin mock-up, which the company presented for both promotional purposes and to garner the input and opinions of the attending industry leaders, whose discretion will ultimately determine the success or failure of the nascent aircraft. The mock-up will be featured at the next Farnborough International Airshow.
Russia to receive ‘several hundred’ drones from Iran
United States National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, told reporters during a press conference on 11 July 2022 that Russia is in the process of acquiring a range of reconnaissance and combat drones from Iran. “Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” Sullivan is quoted as saying by Politico. The transfers may have already started, and Iran will provide appropriate training to Russians in the coming months, the official said.
If true, the report confirms the fact that the Russian army is suffering from a lack of capable drones, a feature that could benefit the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Numerous Russian military analysts have highlighted the lack of unmanned assets. The shortcoming has become especially acute in recent weeks, as Ukraine received Western-made high-precision rocket systems that according to Russian analysts, that Russia can neither detect nor counter in time. In April 2022, reports emerged that Russia was requesting the return of the S-300 air defence systems it had previously supplied to Iran. This was due to Russia’s own stock of high-tech weaponry becoming depleted during heavy fighting in Ukraine.
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