“A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
The Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster was an experimental bomber aircraft, designed for a high-top speed. The unconventional approach was to mount the two engines within the fuselage driving a pair of contra-rotating propellers mounted at the tail in a pusher configuration, leaving the wing and fuselage clean and free of drag-inducing protrusions. Two prototype aircraft were built, but the end of World War II changed priorities and the advent of the jet engine gave an alternative way toward achieving high speed.
The XB-42 was developed initially as a private venture; an unsolicited proposal was presented to the United States Army Air Forces in May 1943. This resulted in an Air Force contract for two prototypes and one static test airframe, the USAAF seeing an intriguing possibility of finding a bomber capable of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress’s range without its size or cost. The aircraft mounted a pair of Allison V-1710-125 liquid-cooled V-12 engines behind the crew’s cabin, each driving one of the twin propellers. Air intakes were in the wing leading edge. The landing gear was tricycle and a full, four surface cruciform tail was fitted, whose ventral fin / rudder unit prevented the coaxial propellers from striking the ground. The pilot and co-pilot sat under twin bubble canopies and the bombardier sat in the extreme front behind a plexiglass nose.
The first XB-42 was delivered to the USAAF and flew at Palm Springs, California on 6 May 1944. Performance was excellent, being basically as described in the original proposal: as fast or faster than the de Havilland Mosquito but with defensive armament and twice the bombload. The twin bubble canopies proved a bad idea as communications were adversely affected and a single bubble canopy was substituted after the first flight. Testing revealed that the XB-42 suffered from some instability as excessive yaw was encountered, as well as vibration and poor engine cooling, all problems that could probably have been dealt with. Due to the ventral vertical stabiliser and rudder surface sets tip being located underneath the fuselage, careful handling during taxiing, take-off and landing was required because of limited ground clearance.
In December 1945, Captain Glen Edwards and Lt. Col. Henry E. Warden set a new transcontinental speed record when they flew the XB-42 from Long Beach, California to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. (c. 2,300 miles). In just five hours, 17 minutes, the XB-42 set a speed record of 433.6 mph (697.8 km/h). The second of two prototypes of the Douglas XB-42, on a routine flight out of Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., suffered in short order, a landing gear extension problem, failure of the left engine and as coolant temperatures rose, failure of the right engine. Maj. Hayduck bailed out at 1,200 feet, Lt. Col. Haney at 800 feet and pilot Lt. Col. (later Major General) Fred J. Ascani, after crawling aft to jettison the pusher propellers, at 400 feet, all three survived. The aircraft crashed at Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The remaining prototype was used in flight test programmes, including fulfilling a December 1943 proposal by Douglas to fit uprated engines and underwing Westinghouse 19XB-2A axial-flow turbojets of 1,600 lbf (7.1 kN) thrust each, making it the XB-42A. In this configuration, it first flew at Muroc (now Edwards Air Force Base) on 27 May 1947. In testing, it reached 488 mph (785 km/h). After 22 flights, the lower vertical stabiliser and rudder were damaged in a hard landing in 1947. The XB-42A was repaired but never flew again and was taken off the USAF inventory on 30 June 1949.
No. 43-50224 is in storage awaiting restoration in the Restoration Hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The prototype was removed from the USAF inventory in 1949 and given to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., in whose care it remains although it has never been placed on display. The wings were removed for transport but have since been lost. In late 2010, the fuselage was transferred, along with the Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster, to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio where they are awaiting restoration in the Restoration Hangars. Once completed, they will be displayed in the Museum’s Experimental Aircraft Hangar.
Those persons that identified the aircraft correctly this week: Ari Levien, Glen Kieser, Steve Dewsbery, P Rossouw, Colin Austen, Erwin Stam, Greg Yatt, Micky Esterhuysen, Charlot Engels (Captain ret), Bob Gurr, Bernard Stander, Righardt du Plessis, Wouter van der Waal, Findlay Smith, Selwyn Kimber, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Danie Viljoen, Rex Tweedie, Ahmed Bassa, Kevin Farr, Ralph Schlaphoff, Greg Pullin, Hilton Carroll, Dawid Hanekom, Herman Nel, Mark Cope, Willie Oosthuizen, Brian Melmoth, Johan Venter, (29)
What is the transition altitude at Pofadder in IMC?
Political parties have criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa after he addressed the nation on Monday night on continued riots, lawlessness and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The unrest was driven by some of former president Jacob Zuma’s sympathisers, who have been calling for his release from the Estcourt Correctional Centre. He was taken into custody last week after the Constitutional Court sentenced him to 15 months behind bars for failing to abide by an order to give evidence before the Zondo Commission. The DA said “little in Ramaphosa’s address offered anything new, in terms of measures to curb the violence, looting and destruction of property. In short, it was clear that the president and his government have no real plan and that citizens will have to face the mobs of rioters and looters entirely on their own,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said.
“Our country is literally burning; many South Africans have lost everything they had to the looters and thousands of jobs have been laid to waste. We needed a strong statement of action tonight but instead, we simply got more of the platitudes that this Presidency has become known for”. The DA claimed the violence had escalated because law enforcement agencies had failed to take control early on.
African Pilot seldom becomes involved in South African politics, but when one watches the lawless destruction of shopping centres, warehouses, roads, trucks and infrastructure this becomes everyone’s business. How long does this go on and become an aviation risk as well? I do not pretend to have all the answers, but if the present situation is not stopped this week, another week will result in compete anarchy and mass killings of innocent people.
African Pilot’s July 2021 edition
The July edition of African Pilot featuring Light Sport Aircraft types (LSA), South African designed and manufactured light aircraft and South African light aircraft assembled from kits has been fully distributed. This 260-page publication is one of the largest we have ever produced and incorporates 25 embedded picture galleries and 28 embedded videos, also another record. This year the LSA and South African manufactured aircraft feature is a whopping 80 pages. On behalf of the African Pilot team, I would like to thank those advertisers that have supported this amazing edition. Without your commitment there is no way we could have produced a publication of this excellence.
African Pilot’s August 2021 edition
The August edition will feature Avionics, Instrumentation and headsets, especially the aircraft retrofit market. Over the next few days African Pilot will be sending information to all known avionics and instrumentation companies in South Africa as well as the remainder of the world. Now that the magazine reaches anyone with an interest in aviation throughout the world, African Pilot is now considered to be an international publication.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of May and June. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2020 editions.
Click on the covers below.
The mystery of Flights to Nowhere
I have watched and enjoyed the full series to date and I was impressed with the production of the various episodes that African Pilot published as a series during 2019 / 20 and that we consolidated into Wouter’s eBook. I understand from Wouter that the series has been so popular that the television station will be re-broadcasting the series on Mnet catchup for the next few weeks.
Flights to Nowhere eBook
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Aero Club support
News from the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa
The CAASA office
The physical office for all ostensible purposes is closed with staff working remotely. There are a few challenges especially with the impending possible ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over CAASA presently, due to the pressure of no revenue received from the AAD partnership are continuing as best as we can.
We await the astute guidance of the board and at that level we have been advised that plans are coming to completion with regards to CAASA’s operational capabilities. The COVID level 4 restrictions and the requirement to have virtual meetings is the new normal and we are working well and due to the limited travel possibly get more done. We do miss the personal contact .
The ICASA challenges remain and there seems little intent by ICASA to provide a streamline service and responding to queries is poor to non-existent at times. The COVID trump card is always played.
CARS Amendment 21
The 21st Amendment for our CARS is still in standoff between the SACAA and the DOT and we hope it is resolved soon. CAASA has placed sufficient pressure via the firm channels which we hope will see some movement.
Wonderboom flight schools landing fees
The charging of full approach and landing fees debacle at Wonderboom Airport where the airport seems to be reneging upon the country wide practice and the gazetted practice for ACSA airports to charge discounted fees for the schools. The impact will be dire if they continue and a legal action is in process. In South Africa, the general practice is a discount rate of 70% at ACSA Airports and more at independent airports. This may result in a catastrophic implosion of the training schools at Wonderboom.
General Aviation Safety Strategy (GASS)
We are participating in many work groups and regulation development task teams as well as the GASS work groups. In some of the work groups it seems apparent that the SACAA has an internal plan and is shepherding the work groups to that goal. The jury is out as to if the SACAA is listening to the industry in some of the work groups.
SACAA staff salary increases
Despite being bailed out by the Department of Transport (DoT) the SACAA has implemented staff salary increases which has not gone down well in the industry where we are all battling for survival.
With the SACAA dependent on airline traffic Passenger Safety Charge and the Fuel Levy and the significant decline in both income streams since COVID-19 (the projected numbers only to return to pre COVID levels in around three to five years), it brings into question where the funds to increase the salaries are going to come from – presumably, the bail out from DOT will be continuing. Are we to expect an increase in the application and service fees? I sincerely hope not!
Despite requests to provide the credit of funds owed to CAASA, by the SACAA these are still outstanding and the finance department seem uninterested in resolving the problem dating back to the part 93 exemption. It has been escalated and will now go to the CFO of SACAA.
Radar terrain charts
It has also come to CAASA’s attention that the radar terrain charts that are supposed to be reviewed and updated every five years have not been reviewed and the few that have apparently been reviewed are filled with errors which creates a significant safety concern. CAASA will be sending a letter to the SACAA to raise this as a matter affecting National aviation safety and keep you informed
The AIID work group has met and we have given input to get the AIID proposed regulation to ensure industry is better served. I believe it went well and there are open discussions which is good.
Part 66 sub part 4
CAASA via AMOSA members will be participating the part 66 sub part 4 re-write which is necessary.
Alternative CAASA revenue sand box exercise
The CAASA Alternative Revenue Stream Project is continuing, but not quite as envisaged but we are getting positive results in certain areas. Please note there are still significant learnings and areas that will need to be streamlined as the staff have not done this before or had insight into this.
Areas of success
- The C of A applications seem to be working fairly smoothly and we are achieving the targets i.e., within the SACAA service level agreement.
- The AOC application which we have test run has also been completed within the SACAA service level agreement.
With regards to the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) process, we had full agreement from the SACAA’s upper management. However internally in SACAA it is apparent that this was never implemented or fully communicated with the inspectorate of SACAA and some inspectors are actively working against the agreements achieved with SACAA management. They are against industry monitoring their efficiency and productivity.
There are significant conflicts where the inspectors implement their own requirements and change the requirements on a whim. When it suits, they work exactly to the regulations and at times also when in their favour they choose not to. It is extremely frustrating for all involved industry and the hardworking inspectors alike. In a nutshell, the SACAA upper management has in reality has seemingly reneged upon the agreed Sandbox exercise. It is incredibly frustrating for all concerned.
South African Search and Rescue
The acting ARCC Chief and Head of Search and Rescue has met virtually with me to guide on the changes and what is in the pipeline regarding ICAO commitments as a state for Search and Rescue. They are increasing their staff numbers further and while there is a perceived void since the resignation of the stalwart Ms S White the ARCC Chief – it seems that it may get back on track.
The long-range ability for search and rescue is severely compromised as the SAAF does not have sufficient serviceable aircraft to provide full time cover specifically for the greater than 500 NM of shore requirements. The SAAF is investigating certain BRICKS contracts and have approached certain local companies for assistance. However, there are requirements for the dropping or supplies etc that prove challenging. The bottom line is we do not have sufficient purpose aligned aircraft to provide this cover which is a problem.
I have offered CAASA assistance regarding ELT issues (i.e., possibly obtaining a list of all our members that have ELTs to ensure their lists are correct. Secondly to contact CAASA for possible help with Search and Rescue God forbid we have another accident requiring this). Thank you for offering the names and contacts for the various aeronautical organisations in South Africa. The more contacts the ARCC, as a team have, the faster our response to distresses will be.
Let us continue working together in the interest of South African aviation. We have the most amazing country and the greatest aviators that deserve the highest SAR service in the world and the ARCC will be there to provide it, should the unfortunate situation arise. There are many other members matters that we are addressing which we are not reporting upon in this report.
I trust this brings you all up to speed.
Stay safe and healthy,
Kev Storie (COO)
Comair to voluntarily extend suspension of services
Following President Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will remain on an adjusted LEVEL 4 lockdown for at least the next two weeks, Comair will extend the suspension of scheduled kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair) flights, until 31 August 2021. The prohibition of all non-essential travel in and out of Gauteng, very little to no demand for business travel and international travel bans resulted in Comair temporarily suspending all scheduled flights from Monday, 5 July 2021.
The intention was to recommence operations from 30 July 2021. Given the uncertainty of the expected length of the recently adjusted LEVEL 4 lockdown, restriction of travel in and out of Gauteng coupled with the rampant transmissibility of the COVID-19 ‘Delta’ variant, Comair had to make a difficult but responsible decision to further suspend flight operations until 31 August 2021. This decision has been taken in the interest of the well-being of employees and customers. Without Government engagement with or support for the aviation sector and associated services the ability to plan constructively for a meaningful service beyond 30 July 2021 is exceptionally challenging. Taking the potential variables into consideration, Comair plans to resume scheduled operations on Wednesday 1 September 2021.
South African telescope captures stunning image of radio galaxy
A stunning new image from the South African MeerKAT telescope captures powerful radio emissions woven through space. The radio emissions emanate from an enormous rotating black hole that lies at the center of an elliptical galaxy known as IC 4296. Energy released by matter falling into the black hole generates two radio jets of high energy gas on opposite sides of the galaxy, creating what is also known as a double-lobed radio galaxy.
Using the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (SARAO) MeerKAT telescope, located in the southwest Karoo region of the country, researchers detected the radio waves from IC 4296, along with other unique cosmic features that may reveal new clues about large radio galaxies, according to a statement from the SARAO. Recent observations of IC 4296 revealed that the radio jets become unstable as they travel beyond the outer reaches of the galaxy, allowing some of the charged electrons to escape into intergalactic space. These stray electrons create several faint radio ‘threads,’ which appear below the galaxy in the new image.
The MeerKAT radio data, represented by the red-orange coloured gas in the composite image also captures smooth ‘ribbons’ between the bright emission jets and outer lobes located on either side of the galaxy. The radio lobes are caused by the interaction of a jet with its surrounding medium. The ribbons fill channels that the jets have carved into the surrounding gas. Nearly 1 million light-years from IC 4296, the ribbons are met by intergalactic gas, creating ‘smoke rings’ in the radio lobes, according to the statement. “Only MeerKAT’s unique combination of sensitivity, angular resolution and dynamic range allowed the discovery of these threads, ribbons and rings,” Jim Condon, lead author of the study from the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said in the statement. The intergalactic threads, ribbons and rings captured in the recent MeerKAT radio data represent a never-before-seen combination of cosmic features, according to the SARAO statement.
The South African MeerKAT radio telescope, which saw first light in 2018, is a precursor to Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which aims to answer fundamental astrophysical questions about the nature of objects in the universe with dishes scattered across South Africa and Australia. “It is clear that new results like this from MeerKAT and other SKA pathfinders are set to overhaul our understanding of extragalactic radio sources,” according to the statement. The recent findings have been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
Bell delivers first Bell 505 to Ethiopia
Bell delivered a Bell 505 helicopter to W.A. Oil Factory and Distribution PLC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, its first corporate customer in the country. With this latest acquisition, there are almost 30 Bell 505s in operation across six countries in Africa and the Middle East. W.A. Oil Factory and Distribution PLC was established in 2016 by CEO Worku Aytenew. The company’s portfolio of businesses includes mining, real estate and transportation, as well as the W.A. Oil Factory project. This oilseed crushing and crude oil refining factory, located at Debremarkos in Amhara Regional State, East Gojjam Zone, imports and distributes ETB 5 billion (USD 200 million) worth of palm oil.
The Bell 505 was delivered to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, which has an elevation of 7,625 feet above MSL. “We have been operating the aircraft at 8,100 feet with no problem at all,” said Capt. Gilbert Gitonga, pilot, W.A. Oil. “The 505 has plenty of power and is operating extremely well.” The aircraft was delivered to one of Bell’s independent representatives for Africa, Africair’s Bell Customer Service Facility (CSF) in Nairobi, Kenya, where it was re-assembled and hangered until its ferry flight to Addis Ababa.
Pula to take advantage of Pambele’s local expertise
Guernsey-based Pula Aviation, the majority shareholder of Pula Aviation Services, has acquired a shareholding in Johannesburg, South Africa-based air charter company Pambele Aviation. The company provides fully managed air charter services throughout southern Africa, including Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia, with a King Air 200 and a Cessna Grand Caravan.
Pula Aviation MD Nick Brown explains: “The Pula Group owns and operates a growing number of safari lodges and game reserves within southern Africa. Pambele Aviation has supported those properties with high quality aircraft management and bespoke transfers for guests travelling to these remote locations where local knowledge and expertise is vital to ensure they arrive safely at their destination. It is a natural progression of our strong relationship with the team at Pambele that we have now taken a stake in the business.”
Pambele director Francois Joubert adds: “I am delighted that Pula Aviation has shown its confidence in the services provided by Pambele Aviation. We have ambitious plans to expand our fleet and service offering and welcome the opportunity to work with Pula as we bring those expansion plans to fruition.”
Pula Aviation Services operates a stable of British business aviation entities including Bristol based operator, FBO and Part 145 Centreline, global medical repatriation provider Capital Air Ambulance and Guernsey-based FBO and Part 145 ASG.
Spanish customs helicopter crashes whilst chasing drug traffickers
On the night between 11 and 12 July 2021, a patroller of the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera, the Spanish Customs Surveillance Service, detected a speedboat leaving the Moroccan coast in a hurry towards the southern coast of Spain. Suspecting that it could be a go-fast boat, whose goal is to smuggle drugs into Europe, the customs sent a Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin 2 helicopter to intercept it. Like the rest of the customs aircraft fleet, the helicopter registered as EC-JDQ was operated by the private company Eliance. Onboard were two pilots and an operator in charge of tracking the target using a night-vision camera.
For an unknown reason, the helicopter, which was flying at low altitude to stay hidden from the traffickers, crashed into the sea off Sotogrande beach, northeast of Gibraltar. The two pilots managed to escape the wreckage by themselves, but the operator remained stuck and had to be helped by his colleagues. A customs vessel retrieved the three men. Unfortunately, the operator entered cardiorespiratory arrest as he reached the coast and could not be resuscitated. The wreckage of the helicopter was recovered and taken back to land for investigation the day of the incident. The flight data recorders were retrieved.
AHRLAC / Bronco II accident in the US
It appears that the Bronco II (South African AHRLAC) currently undergoing evaluation in the United States had an accident in which the left gear collapsed on landing. Leidos, a FORTUNE® 500 science and technology leader, announced a teaming agreement with Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace to pursue a new contract to deliver the Bronco II, a new purpose-built, multi-mission aircraft. The aircraft will support the US Special Operations Command’s Armed Overwatch programme.
Ryanair to hire 2,000 pilots for its brand-new Boeing 737 MAXs
Ryanair announced that it will hire 2,000 pilots over the next three years as part of an expansion plan to launch its Boeing 737 MAX fleet and capture additional market share. After receiving its first long-awaited Boeing 737 MAX 8200 in mid-June 2021, the Dublin based carrier is planning to hire and train new pilots. The company must fill flight decks of some 210 incoming Boeing 737 MAXs. Recruitment will kick off from looking for captains. “As part of Ryanair’s career development initiatives, most captain vacancies created by these new aircraft deliveries will be filled by internal promotions which creates opportunities for replacement first officers and ultimately new cadet pilots who can kick start their pilot career with Ryanair so they can grow into the next generation of Ryanair’s first officers and captains,” wrote Ryanair in a statement. The carrier intends on hiring and training crews to be ready to start operations for the summer of 2022.
Porter Airlines orders up to 80 Embraer E195-E2 jets
On 12 July 2021, Embraer announced that Canadian regional air carrier Porter Airlines ordered up to 80 Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. The air carrier has placed an order for 30 E195-E2s with purchase rights for an additional 50 aircraft. The Embraer E195-E2 deliveries will start in the second half of 2022. The E195-E2 is the largest aircraft in Embraer’s E-Jet E2 family designed to maximise efficiency in high-density routes. The aircraft has a layout of seats varying from 120 to 146. Carrying a full load of passengers, the E195-E2’s range extends to 2,600nm (4,815km). The new E2s will serve Porter Airlines business and leisure destinations across Canada, the US, the Caribbean and Mexico from Toronto Pearson Airport, Montréal, Ottawa and Halifax. Presently Porter Airlines has a total of 29 De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 aircraft in its fleet.
EASA certified: Cessna Citation Longitude
Textron’s Cessna Citation Longitude has achieved certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), clearing the way for customer deliveries to begin in the region. “In the second half of last year we saw a substantial increase in super-midsize flight activity across Europe as individuals relied on these products as a transportation solution,” said Tom Perry, vice president of Sales, EMEA, Textron Aviation. The Longitude is backed by Textron Aviation’s extensive global customer service network, providing customers with direct access to nearly 3,000 expert employees, including service representatives offering maintenance, inspections, parts, repairs, avionic upgrades, equipment installations, refurbishments and other specialised services.
With a range of 3,500 nautical miles and full fuel payload of 1,600 pounds, the Citation Longitude offers a low cabin altitude (5,950 feet). With seating for up to 12 passengers, including an optional crew jump seat, the Longitude features a stand-up, 6-foot tall flat-floor cabin. A standard double-club configuration delivers the most legroom in the super-midsize class. Fully berthable seats are designed and manufactured in-house, whilst a walk-in baggage compartment is accessible throughout the entire flight. Powered by FADEC-equipped Honeywell HTF7700L turbofan engines with fully integrated autothrottles with envelope protection, the Longitude offers maintenance intervals of 800 hr/18 months, Textron Aviation maintenance and diagnostic systems (AReS).
BBAM orders 12 additional 737-800 BCFs
BBAM Limited Partnership (BBAM) is expanding its 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter fleet with 12 additional firm orders. The agreement brings BBAM’s 737-800BCF orders and commitments to 31 as e-commerce and express cargo markets continue to drive strong customer demand for freighters. BBAM will be the first customer to have a 737-800BCF converted at Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA), a Costa Rica-based maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider. In May, Boeing announced it would open two conversion lines at COOPESA in 2022. In a separate deal announced in January, BBAM placed six firm orders and six options for the 737-800BCF. The 737-800BCF has won more than 200 orders and commitments from 16 customers. With more than 500 aircraft under management, BBAM employs over 150 professionals at its headquarters in San Francisco and offices around the world, located in New York, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Zurich, Dublin and Santiago.
ALSIM ALX for Liberty University
ALSIM Simulators is excited to announce the sale of an ALX to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA. This will be Liberty’s first ALSIM simulator. Liberty opted for all available flight models in the ALSIM ALX, which starts with a single engine piston close to a Cessna 172 and reconfigures to a medium jet like an Airbus 320.The ALX has many advanced features including complex overhead, dual FMS and ALSIM’s new visual system. The versatile device provides a wide range of flight training services from a student pilot’s first flight with an analogue flight deck to the more advanced jet orientation training. The ALX is ALSIM’s best-selling device to date with more than 100 installed worldwide.
Liberty owns and operates over 25+ aircraft primarily Cessna 172s and Piper Seminoles. Two years ago, Liberty moved into a world class simulator facility that provides exceptional training environment with over 19 certified training devices including four Level 5 FTDs. Liberty also has a nationwide network of 90+ affiliate flight schools that enable aspiring pilots to pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Aviation degree while completing their flight training at an approved Flight Training Affiliate (FTA) located near their place of residence. Both ALSIM and Liberty will be present at EAA Airventure Oshkosh in late July 2021.
‘Air Cocaine’ pilots acquitted on appeal in French court case
Last week a French court in Aix-en-Provence acquitted two pilots of a Dassault Falcon 50 on appeal. The pilots, identified as Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, faced drug-smuggling charges and ultimately six years of prison in France after their March 2013 arrest in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Authorities there searched the Falcon trijet just before a planned take-off for Saint-Tropez, France and found 1,500 pounds of cocaine. The drugs were concealed in approximately 20 suitcases belonging to the jet’s passenger, who was also arrested and faced charges.
After the pilots’ arrest on the ramp in Punta Cana, a Dominican tribunal in August 2015 handed down a 20-year prison sentence for their ‘connection to commit international drug smuggling.’ They fled the Dominican Republic to the French territory of Saint Martin, after which the French court of Aix-en-Provence launched its own case into what was popularly dubbed ‘Air Cocaine.’ In April 2019, the French court found the pilots guilty. Following lengthy appeals, last week the French court confirmed the sentences for other defendants in the case but acquitted pilots Fauret and Odos. According to a report in the French newspaper La Monde, a convicted intermediary in the drug deal told the judge that the pilots were innocent victims of deceit.
Alaska pilot and passengers foil attempted murder-suicide
In single-pilot aircraft, non-pilot passengers are often welcome in the right front seat. But Joshua Kersch, a Cessna Caravan pilot for Ryan Air, declined such a request on a 76-NM flight from Bethel to Aniak, Alaska, perhaps saving his life and those of five passengers. On 7 July 18-year-old Jaden Lake-Kameroff of Bethel boarded the scheduled Ryan Air flight. Lake-Kameroff had asked the pilot to fly the plane during the flight and initially asked to sit in the unoccupied copilot seat. Both requests were denied by the pilot.
According to a statement released by the State Troopers, while approaching to land and about five miles from Aniak at about 1,000 to 1,500 feet above the ground, Lake-Kameroff got up from his seat and took control of the yoke causing the Cessna Caravan to nosedive. Kirsch pushed him back and regained control of the airplane as the four other passengers subdued the teen. The Caravan landed safely. Alaska State Troopers from Aniak responded to the call, arrested Lake-Kameroff and charged him with terroristic threatening in the 2nd degree, five counts of attempted assault in the 1st degree and four counts of assault in the 3rd degree. The troopers also notified the FAA of the incident.
According to an affidavit prepared by the state troopers, Lake-Kameroff told them he was attempting suicide. He said he had talked with behavioural health officials but said it had not helped. Ryan Air President Lee Ryan praised Kersch, saying, “Our pilot relied heavily on his training procedures and his professionalism and landed without further incident. We are extremely thankful for the safe outcome and extremely grateful for the passengers and the pilot and [air traffic control] collectively working together to land safely.”
DG Flugzeugbau acquisition strengthens Volocopter
German UAM company Volocopter has secured Production Organisation Approval (POA) in compliance with EASA Part 21G. The company is acquiring its longstanding, trusted partner in innovation and production DG Flugzeugbau, a leader in composite aircraft production. Through this acquisition, Volocopter is now the first and only eVTOL company holding both the required design and production organisation approvals (DOA and POA) to advance its aircraft toward commercial launch.
UAM is an emerging part of the aviation industry focused on connectivity in and around cities. As an international pioneer of eVTOL air taxi technology, Volocopter has paved the way for creating the ecosystem necessary to introduce UAM to cities worldwide with its electric air taxi and cargo drone services. In 2019, Volocopter was the first and remains the only eVTOL company to attain DOA from EASA (EASA Part 21J). Through its compliance with both EASA Part 21G and Part 21 J, Volocopter is poised to have the first commercial aircraft to market once the company completes type certification and obtains the air operator approval in compliance with EASA.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter says: “Our 10-year partnership with DG Flugzeugbau has been an extraordinary learning experience. Having this legendary industry leader on our side to kick-start scalable and affordable UAM for people and cargo has been a game changer. Today marks an exciting milestone as we unify DG Flugzeugbau’s leadership in aviation production with our pioneering UAM goals to establish yet another crucial stepping-stone for our collective global endeavours.”
As part of this acquisition agreement, Volocopter will integrate DG Flugzeugbau’s aircraft production segment and EASA Part 21G POA. The entire team of highly specialised manufacturing experts will join Volocopter’s production and workshop teams. Another part of the acquisition agreement is to continue to honour existing sailplane production contracts, under the new ownership.
DG Flugzeugbau is renowned worldwide for its excellence in the production and development of glider aircraft, composite aircraft manufacturing and the tuning of World Championship-winning Red Bull Air-Race aircraft. It has held production certification for over 40 years, adhering to the highest safety and production standards according to EASA and the Federal Aviation Office of Germany. The production facilities are in Bruchsal near Volocopter’s headquarters and support serial production.
Together with DG Flugzeugbau, Volocopter designed and built the VC200, the first electrically powered multicopter to receive a permit to fly it in 2016 and flew this model autonomously in Dubai in 2017 and on stage at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas. Since then, the two companies have partnered to produce the Volocopter 2X, the VoloDrone and the VoloCity. The remaining part of the former DG Flugzeugbau is being transitioned into the newly founded DG Aviation. With its maintenance organisation Part CAO and its Design Organisation Part-21J, it will continue developing and maintaining aircraft and will offer complete support for DG and LS gliders.
United Airlines electrifies its future, invests in Heart Aerospace’s ES-19
United Airlines Ventures (UAV), along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines, has made an investment in electric aircraft start-up Heart Aerospace. Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers up to 250 miles before the end of this decade. In addition to UAV’s investment, United Airlines has conditionally agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 aircraft, once the aircraft meet United’s safety, business and operating requirements. Mesa Airlines, United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service, has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, subject to similar requirements. UAV and BEV are among the first investors in Heart Aerospace, creating potential for Heart to fast track the ES-19 introduction to market as early as 2026.
By utilising electric motors instead of jet engines and batteries instead of jet fuel, Heart’s ES-19 aircraft will have zero operational emissions. Seating 19 passengers, the ES-19 aircraft will also be larger than any of its all-electric competitors and will be designed to operate on the same types of batteries used in electric cars. Once operational, the ES-19 could operate on more than 100 of United’s regional routes out of most of its hubs. Some of these routes include Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Purdue University Airport (LAF) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Modesto City-County Airport (MOD).
The Royal Navy tests drones in man overboard trials
Over the past few months, the team, who are the UK navy’s experimentation experts tested the drone both at the Royal Navy’s Diving School at Horsea Island, Portsmouth and more recently on a civilian boat. The work was completed with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and companies Malloy Aeronautics and Planck Aerosystems. First a Minerva T-150 drone was successful in locating a dummy in the water at Horsea Island, deploying a test package that could one day contain a life raft and hovering above the dummy to signpost their location.
Royal Navy crews perform extensive man overboard drills, ensuring they can quickly and effectively rescue anyone at sea. The introduction of a drone means it could be used to fly out to where the person is and hover, making it easier for the ship and sea boat to identify the casualty’s location. With its ability to drop objects, extensively tested with Royal Marines last year in Norway and Cyprus, the drone could also deliver a life buoy and other survival equipment.
Following the success at the Diving School, sea trials started on an industry boat to test the smaller T-80 Minerva drone. The system was able to be controlled to take-off the moving vessel and fly out to sea before returning. In one step further, the drone was programmed to land itself on a mat attached to the boat’s deck, meaning once it had taken off it would use its on board systems to track where it needed to land.
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