“There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.” Christopher Darlington Morley
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was relatively easy 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 email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
British Airways pilot was stabbed while out jogging in Johannesburg
A veteran British Airways pilot was stabbed and held at gunpoint after going on an unapproved run in the ‘lawless’ South African city of Johannesburg. According to a source with knowledge of the airline, the pilot was rushed to hospital after suffering a stab wound to the thigh as the BA community remains ‘shaken’ by the incident. British Airways maintains a hotel in the Melrose Arch neighbourhood of Johannesburg, known as a ‘city within a city’ and the safest place in an otherwise dangerous part of South Africa, where their crew are accommodated between flights. The area is patrolled 24 hours a day all week and features more than 100 shops and restaurants, as well as leisure facilities such as bowling alleys. The airliner strictly advises its crewmembers using the facilities to stay within the Melrose Arch boundaries but the veteran pilot, alongside a member of his crew, ‘decided to risk it and go for a jog’, according to the same source.
Editor comments: Whilst my sympathies certainly go to the captain who was savagely assaulted by Johannesburg’s criminals that freely roam the streets waiting for prey, this is not unique to South Africa. I used to enjoy my early morning or late afternoon jogging within my immediate neighbourhood as well as Sunday hiking with the Johannesburg Hiking Club in the Magaliesberg mountains, but these days I restrict my walking to within the secure estate on which I live and I will only go hiking with a group. We live within one of the most ‘lawless’ countries in the world where crime is supported at the highest levels of the present government due to politicians’ personal involvement in criminal activity.
Position available as a magazine graphic designer
Please send your two-page CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
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. I will be travelling to the United States on Friday 21 July to attend EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh for the 21st time – only missing the two pandemic years. I have already made several appointments to meet with specific exhibitors such as Bose, Garmin, Textron, Diamond, Piper, Pipistrel (now part of Textron), Vans Aircraft, Sonex Aircraft, Embraer, Daher, Pilatus, Cirrus, Continental Motors, Lycoming Engines, Rotax and many others.
The material deadline for the August 2023 edition of African Pilot is Wednesday 19 July 2023, but we will hold this edition for a few more days so that I can prepare some of the most recent content directly from Oshkosh.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
Our team completed the July 2023 edition of Future Flight on Friday 14 July and the magazine was released to the world on the dame day. This 144-page edition has nine picture galleries and 13 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 our 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: email@example.com. Thank you.
AERO South Africa 2023
Absolute Aviation Continental engines promotion
Do not miss out on this Continental engines’ promotion valid from 1 June to 31 July 2023!
Terms and conditions apply.
Follow the link for more information: https://absoluteaviation.co.za/maintena…/aircraft-engines/
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.
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
Aruba and Malawi certify ExecuJet MRO services Africa
The Aruba Department of Civil Aviation and the Malawi Department of Civil Aviation have certified ExecuJet MRO Services Africa to do line and heavy maintenance on select aircraft types on those countries’ aircraft registry. Aruba, in the Caribbean, where many business jets are registered, has granted approval that permits heavy and line maintenance on Dassault Falcon 7X and Falcon 900 aircraft as well as the Bombardier Challenger and Bombardier Global series aircraft. Aruba has also approved ExecuJet MRO Services Africa to overhaul Honeywell TPE331 turboprop and complete major periodic inspections (MPIs) on Honeywell TFE731 turbofan engines.
In a separate development, the Malawi Department of Civil Aviation has certified ExecuJet MRO Services Africa to do line and heavy maintenance on Malawi-registered Embraer ERJ-135 and Embraer ERJ-145 commercial regional jets, as well as their derivatives, the Embraer Legacy 600 and 650 business jet.
Vince Goncalves, Regional Vice President Africa at ExecuJet MRO Services, says: “We are pleased to be recognised by so many international aviation bodies. This latest certification allows us to penetrate these two markets by providing world-class MRO services to local business jet operators and owners as well as those flying into different parts of Africa. Customers can expect their aircraft to be well-supported and maintained at all times thanks to our team of highly trained maintenance technicians and engineers who have extensive multi-OEM experience,” he adds. ExecuJet MRO Services Africa is also certified by other civil aviation regulators such as: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man and San Marino.
Fire crews assist Emirates A380 following reports of smoke after landing
The flight from Dubai Airport (DBX) landed in Birmingham on 4 July 2023, at 12h30 local time as scheduled but witnesses described the touchdown as a ‘rough landing’. “There was a problem with the brakes on the A380. It looks dramatic but passengers on board were safe at all times albeit inconvenienced. It has now moved,” a source close to the airport said. An aviation enthusiast told the BBC that the world’s largest jet looked like it had a ‘damaged and flat’ tyre.
A passenger on the plane told Birmingham Live that once the A380 landed the plane halted and fire crews approached the aircraft. The passengers were instructed to stay on the plane and were stuck onboard for over an hour. In footage of the incident, the aircraft makes a normal approach, but when the A380’s wheels touch the ground smoke engulfs the area and the plane appears to wobble from side to side.
“After the safe landing of Emirates flight EK 039 from Dubai to Birmingham on 4 July, the aircraft vacated the runway and was attended by emergency services and maintenance technicians as there were reports of smoke during taxiing. A technical issue was identified, engines were shut down as a precaution and the aircraft was towed to a remote stand. Passengers and crew safely disembarked,” a spokesperson for Emirates said. The airline confirmed that once inspections were completed the aircraft was returned to service. However, the following Emirates flight from Birmingham to Dubai departed after a two-hour delay.
Portugal to investigate Ryanair B737 and Azores A321neo near-miss at Porto
Portuguese investigators said that they will investigate a near-miss incident involving Ryanair Boeing 737-800 NextGeneration (NG) and Azores Airlines Airbus A321neo at Porto Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO), Portugal. Office for the Prevention and Investigation of Accidents in Civil Aviation and Rail (Gabinete de Prevenção e Investição de Acidentes com Aeronaves e de Acidentes Ferroviários, GPIAAF) has classified the occurrence, which took place at OPO on 26 June 2023, as a ‘loss of separation’. Loss of separation happens when two aircraft breach specified vertical or horizontal minimums in controlled airspace.
According to the GPIAAF’s early observations, as shared in its Quarterly Bulletin Publication, the Ryanair Boeing 737-800 NG, registered as EI-DLX, descended to 275 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) at a distance of 950 meters from the beginning of runway 35, where the Azores Airlines Airbus A321neo, registered as CS-TSI, was located. The Ryanair 737-800 was performing flight FR4585 from Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN), Spain to OPO, while the Azores Airlines A321neo was preparing to take-off on flight S46473 to Porto Santo Airport (PXO), Madeira, Portugal.
Prior to the loss of separation, the A321neo was authorised by local Air Traffic Control (ATC) to line up on runway 35 at OPO behind landing traffic on a short final and await clearance. After all the aircraft then on their short finals had landed, the Azores Airlines aircraft lined up on the runway and awaited take-off instructions from ATC. At the same time, the Ryanair aircraft was on its final approach on the same runway. With less than 30 seconds remaining before it landed, the pilot of the 737-800 contacted ATC and promptly received wind information and landing clearance on runway 35.
After he had noticed the A321neo on the runway, the pilot of the Boeing 737 asked ATC to confirm whether there was an aircraft on runway 35, continued the GPIAAF’s report, adding that ATC instructed the Ryanair pilots to initiate a go-around ‘about 13 seconds before flying over the threshold of runway 35’. “GPIAAF, in fulfilling its assigned functions and competencies, is gathering additional information about the event,” the Portuguese investigators stated, noting that there were no injuries to the occupants of either aircraft.
Bomb threat passenger thought a cartel would kill him
Alaska Airlines Flight 334, a 737 MAX-9 from Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport (ATL) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) diverted to Washington State’s Spokane International Airport (GEG) after an as-of-yet unnamed passenger seated in the 737’s first-class section made a direct threat against the aircraft and its occupants.
The 05 July flight was uneventful until the aforementioned passenger handed a flight-attendant a receipt, on which he had written: “This is not a joke. Several pounds of homemade explosives are in my carry-on bag. I have a detonator with me. Handle this matter carefully and exactly how I say, otherwise I will detonate the explosives and kill everyone onboard. Many innocent lives are in your hands.” The note demanded the aircraft be rerouted to any airport other than SEA and further instructed the flight-attendant to alert the 737’s flight-crew and air traffic controllers of the bomb threat while concealing such from the remainder of the flight’s passengers and flight-attendants. Ironically, the passenger said in the note that he would surrender willingly and peacefully upon the aircraft’s arrival at any destination other than Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The note concluded: “Once we have rerouted, I expect an announcement. That way I know my demand has been met. Pretend there is some sort of equipment problems or whatever you have to do. Just get this plane rerouted. Failure to comply will cost the lives of everyone on this plane. I have nothing left to lose.” Alaska Airlines Flight 334 was subsequently rerouted to Spokane International Airport, some 194-nautical-miles east of SEA. Upon landing, the 737 taxied to a remote section of GEG’s ramp, where all passengers were hurriedly disembarked and transported to a nearby fire station.
A responding bomb-squad searched the aircraft, the passenger who had issued the threat and his baggage turned up no explosives. The incident occasioned a one-hour-plus shutdown of GEG. Law enforcement personnel promptly arrested the bomb-scare’s perpetrator and remanded him to the custody of federal agents, by whom he was vigorously questioned.
Under interrogation, the passenger claimed he was being targeted by Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, members of which, he asserted, were waiting in Seattle to abduct, torture and kill him. Fearing for his life and preferring incarceration to death at the hands of cartel killers, the individual made the bomb threat. The perpetrator explained he had considered alternative means by which to divert the flight, including assaulting a flight-attendant or opening an emergency-exit, but opted to make the bomb threat insomuch as he felt it represented the highest likelihood of success.
The offending individual is currently in the custody of the US Marshals, safe from the Sinaloa Cartel and rightly relieved of both his immediate worries and his freedom. The 6 July Federal Court proceeding saw the man charged with rendering false information / perpetrating a hoax. A further hearing on the matter is scheduled for 19 July. If convicted, the individual faces up to five-years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000, penalties his traumatised fellow passengers and Flight 334’s cockpit- and cabin-crews likely consider excessively lenient.
Delta Air Lines firms up order for 12 Airbus A220-300s
With the freshly firmed up orders, the total Delta Air Lines A220 fleet will grow to 131 aircraft of the type, including the A220-100 and A220-300. According to Airbus Orders & Deliveries data for June 2023, the airline already operates 45 A220-100 and 16 A220-300 aircraft, with no remaining A220-100 orders. Following the addition of the 12 orders, the airline’s backlog of A220 aircraft will be 70 jets.
Delta Air Lines was the launch customer of the Airbus A220 in the United States, having taken delivery of the aircraft in October 2018 shortly after the then-CSeries was rebranded to the A220 when Airbus purchased a majority stake in the programme. Of note, Airbus added an order from an undisclosed customer for 12 A220-300 aircraft on 30 June 2023, according to the manufacturer’s Orders & Deliveries filings. In January 2023, the airline also ordered 12 aircraft of the type but the recently announced order is unrelated. Recently, Delta Air Lines reported a record-breaking Q2, ending Q2 2023 with a net income of $1.8 billion.
Apart from Delta Air Lines, Qantas was the only other airline to order the A220 family aircraft so far in 2023. The Australian carrier also firmed up its options during the Paris Air Show on 20 June 2023. In July 2023, Qantas unveiled pictures of its first Airbus A220-300 being assembled at Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, announcing that everyone could suggest names for its A220-300 fleet that would be centred around the topic of ‘native wildlife’.
Pegasus Airlines places an order for 36 new A321neo aircraft
In line with its strategy to modernise its fleet, focusing on reducing emissions while saving fuel and unit costs, Pegasus Airlines has signed an agreement with Airbus for 36 new A321neo aircraft. Pegasus had previously modified its Airbus order signed in 2012, to include a total of 114 new aircraft with amendments made in 2017, 2021 and 2022. The delivery of the 36 newly ordered aircraft, in addition to its existing orders, is planned to be completed by the end of 2029. As a result, the original order for 100 A320 / 321neo family aircraft, placed by Pegasus with Airbus in 2012, has now been extended to a total of 150 aircraft. Among these, 108 are A321neos.
In her statement on the agreement, Güliz Öztürk, CEO of Pegasus Airlines, said: “Through our recent agreement with Airbus, by adding 36 new 239-seater A321neo aircraft, which are the most efficient aircraft type in their class, we will both expand and modernise our fleet. With an average age of 4.5 years, we operate the youngest fleet in Türkiye”
A321neos have higher seat capacity, lower fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions per seat-kilometre. The A321neo, the latest addition to the Airbus medium range single-aisle family, is the largest of the family. Due to its 239-seat configuration, it offers significant advantages in terms of capacity utilisation, while also providing significant benefits in terms of fuel consumption due to the technical specifications of the new generation LEAP-1A engines. Airbus states that the new-generation Neo aircraft is 15-20% more efficient in terms of fuel consumption and carbon emissions than its predecessors. The operational performance of the A320/321neo series aircraft validates this efficiency.
McCauley’s new high-performance propeller for Beechcraft King Air B300
Last week McCauley Propeller Systems announced that its newest C780 propeller for the Beechcraft King Air B300 series, featuring four aluminium swept blades and a 105-inch diameter, has successfully achieved certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The new high-performance propeller offers King Air B300 operators additional payload, increased take-off and climb performance, reduced noise in the cabin and cockpit and greater time between overhauls.
With the new C780 propeller, King Air B300 owners and operators will experience:
- Propeller weight savings of more than 50 pounds
- Increased take-off and climb performance
- Reduced noise in the cabin and cockpit
- Extended Time Between Overhaul (TBO) of 5,000 hours or 72 months
- Textron Aviation’s 4,000 hours or 36-month limited propeller warranty
King Air B300 customers can have the propeller installed on their aircraft at a Textron Aviation Service Center or Authorised McCauley Service Facility without any additional modifications required.
Portugal rolls out private aviation carbon-emissions tax
Billed as a carbon-emissions tax, it was signed into law as a national budget amendment in April and implemented for aircraft with up to 19 seats at the beginning of July. Similar to a measure introduced in 2021 for airline passengers, the tariff is much more onerous for private aviation flights. According to aviation industry data clearinghouse Ops Group, while a typical 250-seat airliner flying between Lisbon and Newark Airport in New Jersey will pay a €500 surcharge, a large-cabin business jet such as a Gulfstream G650 on the same route will pay four times that amount, despite the airliner’s much greater fuel burn. The new tax will be imposed on all commercial and non-commercial flights departing from Portugal and also applies to tech stops in the Azores islands, which are Portuguese territory. Exempted from the tax are emergency diversions due to weather, mechanical, or medical problems, fully electric aircraft, PSO flights on government-subsidized routes, state-owned aircraft, as well as search-and-rescue and medevac flights.
Ukraine F-16 pilot training to start in August
Ukrainian air force pilots and support personnel will begin training on the F-16 at bases in Denmark and Romania in August. A coalition of 11 countries was formed at the NATO summit in Lithuania to guide the training. The US is not a member of that coalition and has not agreed to send aircraft to Ukraine, but it has said it will not block other countries from sending their surplus Vipers to the fight. Denmark and the Netherlands recently mothballed their F-16 fleets as they took delivery of F-35s and are expected to lead the training effort.
“We have to defend our civilian population, our infrastructure, critical objects, our schools, our universities. That is why for us it is very important that this fighter jet coalition starts up,” Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told reporters at the summit. “I am especially grateful to Denmark and the Netherlands for their outstanding leadership in this process.”
It’s still not clear how many F-16s will be transferred to Ukraine but officials said they need at least 48 to tip the balance against the Russians. Reznikov said he hopes to see the new fighters making a meaningful difference in the war within about six months. However, the programme may not end with the F-16s. Reznikov said the coalition is considering adding other types to the Ukraine war effort, but he did not specify which types.
Honda Aircraft to build new plant in North Carolina
Honda Aircraft Company has announced plans to build a new Greensboro plant, thereby bringing 280 new jobs to its home city over the next five-years. The project is funded, in part, by a $3.43-million job development investment grant pledged by the Tarheel State’s government. Honda Aircraft recently disclosed plans to develop and bring to market a stretched, longer-range iteration of its legacy HondaJet.
Honda Aircraft currently employs 723 full-time and 93 contact personnel in North Carolina’s Guilford County. The company’s parent entity, American Honda Motor Company, employs an additional 562 workers in the town of Swepsonville in neighbouring Alamance County.
The state-provided job development investment grant also includes the addition of $381,600 to North Carolina’s Industrial Development Fund Utility Account, a monetary resource that helps rural areas and communities throughout the state finance infrastructure updates for purpose of attracting new businesses. In 2007, Honda Aircraft received a state of North Carolina job development investment grant for the creation of its headquarters at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO). The state has since paid the aircraft-maker an additional $6.68 million. The 2007 grant resulted in the creation of 321 jobs and retention of another 616 positions. Economists posit Honda Aircraft’s new Greensboro manufacturing facility stands to grow North Carolina’s economy by $2.37 billion over the grant’s 12-year term.
FAA ushers in a new era of digital record keeping in aviation
In June 2023, two large Part 135 operators have been approved by the FAA to operate without using paper records. They will use an entirely digital record keeping system provided and supported by Vision Aircraft Records utilising the SMART Logbook System (Secured Managed Aircraft Records Technology). Vision Aircraft Records can supply any Part 135 operator or certificate holder with the generic language to apply for the same approval. Vision has the capability to onboard any operator in the United States in a single business day.
“This will open the floodgates for anyone in business aviation industry who wishes to take advantage of an entirely digital business model,” said Mark Leeper. “This is a game changer to finally do away with the grief of paper. It will save an endless amount of money and time for ALL operators, including Part 91, Part 135 and others.” Aircraft records can be voluminous and have traditionally been a headache for operators. This development eliminates the need for paper entirely for some operators.
Industry expert Larry Hinebaugh estimates that poor record keeping costs the industry over 150 million dollars per year, including maintenance research labour, lost documents, clerical time organising, shipping and storage, etc. This figure does NOT include lost aircraft value in transactions, or aircraft downtime caused by records which are incomplete or missing, compromising airworthiness.
Hummingbird to fly to Oshkosh
EAA AirVenture 2023 will be graced by a beautiful Hummingbird 300L helicopter skilfully and exactingly built by Mr. Vic Syracuse of Locust Grove, Georgia’s Base Leg Aviation. The machine will be on static display from 24 through 30 July. Inspired by Sikorsky’s S-52 and produced by Sanford, Florida-based Vertical Aviation Technologies, the Hummingbird is simple in design, robust, easy to assemble and a pleasure to fly. Moreover, the machine’s acquisition and operating costs are significantly lower than those of comparably capable factory-built rotorcraft.
NASA’s specialised cargo plane ‘Super Guppy’ to be on display at AirVenture
The Super Guppy will be parked on Boeing Plaza Monday through Wednesday during AirVenture. The unique cargo plane was designed to carry large spaceship parts to different locations. The specialised aircraft has a huge cargo area, measuring 25 feet in diameter and 111 feet long. It was designed to carry items that would not fit in any other cargo aircraft. The Super Guppy has been used in test campaigns at Marshall and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The aircraft is being used to transport parts for the Orion structure, playing an integral role in the goal to bring people to the moon again and eventually to Mars. Transporting oversized cargo is a problem for various industries, with the physical limitations of structures like tunnels, narrow roads, low bridges and power lines making overland shipment problematic. The Super Guppy offers another solution for transporting impressively large cargo, with impressive capabilities. The Super Guppy will be a highlight of the Boeing Plaza, showing a different side of aviation and representing the ways aircraft can provide an innovative solution and how the sky is not the only limit.
Passenger tantrum over choice of meal forces deviation of UAL flight
A United Airlines flight bound from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) was diverted to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) after an as-of-yet unnamed, reportedly intoxicated, business-class passenger behaved poorly upon learning his first meal choice was not available. The Sunday, 9 July incident aboard United Airlines Flight 20 necessitated the dumping of a sizeable amount of fuel over the Windy City and occasioned the following statement from the Chicago-based legacy air-carrier: “United Flight 20 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Amsterdam diverted to O’Hare International Airport and landed safely following a passenger disturbance. Law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate and escorted the passenger off the plane. The aircraft then continued to Amsterdam.”
The unruly UAL passenger’s threat-level one designation reflects the lowest of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) four-tier threat-level classification system. Level-one threats consist of verbally threatening or disruptive behaviour. Level-two denotes an escalation to physical abuse of passengers, crewmembers, or the aircraft. Level-three represents life-threatening behaviour or the brandishing of a weapon. Level-four comprises the attempted or actual breach of the aircraft’s flight-deck. Since the UAL Flight 20 passenger’s truculence was deemed a level-one threat, it may be inferred his transgression against civilised behaviour was verbal in nature. Nevertheless, the air-crew’s decision to divert the flight presupposes a surfeit of vehemence and an accompanying paucity of circumspection on the offending passenger’s part.
Launch window for second Virgin Galactic spaceflight announced
Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. announced that the flight-window for its Galactic 02 mission will open on 10 August. If launched, this mission will be the company’s seventh spaceflight, second commercial spaceflight and third spaceflight in 2023. Galactic 02 is slated to convey three private passengers to space, thereby continuing the Virgin Galactic’s hopeful cadence of spaceflights. Details of the flight manifest, including the identities of the crew and pilots, will be made public at a later date.
Virgin Galactic cordially invites interested parties to participate virtually in the launch and witness the spectacle of spaceflight. The livestream will be broadcast on VirginGalactic.com. On 29 June 2023, after 19 years of delays, setbacks (to include a fatal accident) regulatory woes, federal investigations, and lawsuits, Virgin Galactic, the California-based spaceflight subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, actualised its founder’s ambition to transport paying passengers to the edge of space.
Dubbed Galactic 01, the historic flight saw Virgin Mothership (VMS) Eve, a four-engine, twin-fuselage, twin-empennage behemoth named for Evette Branson, Sir Richard’s mother, launch skyward from Virgin Galactic’s New Mexico Spaceport America facility at 08h30 MDT. Slung beneath Eve’s center-wing section, Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity and its complement of three Italian astronauts and two company pilots stalwartly bore the weight of Virgin Galactic’s hopes and the scrutiny of an onlooking world. Reaching FL400, Unity separated uneventfully from Eve, dropped free of the massive mothership and fired its hybrid rocket engine. Accelerating to Mach 2.88, Unity climbed toward space’s edge, reaching its 52.9-mile (279,312-foot) apogee some 58 minutes after Eve lifted off from the Land of Enchantment. For thirteen-minutes, the vehicle drifted at the edge of space while its Italian crew conducted a pre-planned series of scientific experiments. Unity’s return to Earth was nominal, a term denoting perfection in the argot of spaceflight culminating in a nicely executed, 09h42 MDT landing at Spaceport America.
Wisk eVTOL to make AirVenture debut
California-based, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) concern and wholly owned Boeing subsidiary, Wisk announced on 12 July that its sixth-generation air taxi will make its EAA AirVenture debut in 2023. Wisk CEO Brian Yutko stated: “Many of our employees are pilots and we have long dreamed of sharing the groundbreaking, innovative work that we are doing at Oshkosh. This year, we are fulfilling that dream. We are excited to introduce the Oshkosh community to our sixth-generation air taxi and to share more about how autonomous flight is going to positively change the future of aviation.”
In addition to displaying its eVTOL air taxi at the Wisk chalet, the company’s AirVenture 2023 campaign will see the convening of a special forum addressing the impact of autonomous air taxis on General Aviation. Unveiled on 03 October 2022, Wisk’s sixth-generation prototype proved an elegant synthesis of conventional and avant-garde technologies. The all-electric VTOL contraption attains and sustains flight by dint of a lift + cruise scheme in which its twelve propellers articulate to provide both vertical and horizontal thrust.
Once airborne, the vehicle transitions to forward, wing-borne flight, its six, forward, five-blade tractor propellers providing thrust and its six, four-blade aft propellers locking into an aerodynamically advantageous, stationary configuration in which the planes of the propellers’ disks lie parallel to the aircraft’s longitudinal axis. Excepting a preponderance of under-wing booms and propeller assemblies, the architecture of Wisk’s sixth generation eVTOL is surprisingly unassuming, comprising a single high-mounted, high-aspect-ratio main-wing spanning fifty-feet and a fuselage that bears a passing resemblance to that of a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter fitted out with a conventional empennage in place of a tail-rotor. A forward baggage compartment or frunk is located in the eVTOLs nose. The four-passenger, pilotless machine has an advertised cruise speed of 110-120-knots and a cruise altitude of 2,500 to four-thousand-feet AGL. Wisk claims the vehicle is capable of traversing ninety-miles on a 15-minute battery-charge.
Unlike remotely piloted aircraft, which are flown by earthbound human pilots, Wisk’s eVTOL operates autonomously. Safety of flight is supported by the self-same proven technologies that account for more than 93-percent of the automated in-flight functions of modern commercial aircraft. Wisk’s sixth generation eVTOL utilises sophisticated detect-and-avoid systems and logic-driven, procedural-based, decision-making software that provides reliable, deterministic outcomes. Notwithstanding the robustness and redundancy of its autonomous capabilities, Wisk’s air-taxis are monitored in perpetuity by multi-vehicle supervisors that provide human oversight of every flight and retain the ability to assume control of the aircraft if necessary.
In stark contrast to sector competitors the likes of Joby, Archer and Volocopter, each of which seeks to commence commercial production of its respective eVTOL concept in 2025, Wisk intends to bring its eVTOL offering to market sometime before 2030. With a target per-passenger-mile price of three-dollars, Wisk’s sixth-generation aircraft is designed to democratise flight, at least to a degree consistent with extant technological and economic constraints.
Mayman Aerospace Speeder to be displayed at AirVenture 2023
The Speeder is a compact, high-speed, Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft at once suited to dual-use military and civilian special missions roles, to include personal transportation; combat resupply; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); fire-suppression; Search and Rescue (SAR) and emergency medical support. Painted in broad strokes, Speeder is small-car-sized aerial vehicle powered by varying numbers and configurations of turbojet engines arranged about the aircraft’s periphery after the fashion of the quadcopter architecture typical of conventional drones. Prototype specimens, to date, have been remotely piloted. However, the production Speeder aircraft, will be available in manned and unmanned versions.
Speeder’s engine thrust-vectoring is accomplished via individual gimbal-mounted engines (or pairs of engines) moving together or individually and managed by proprietary computer hardware and software systems. Each engine is a self-contained, easily serviceable and replaceable unit. Speeder’s in-flight performance is characterised by rapid acceleration, excellent manoverability and stable hovering. Precision is augmented by moveable exhaust nozzles known colloquially as jetevators. Speeder ascends with its engines gimballed forward and outward, as well as back and out, respectively. As the aircraft rises, the engines automatically rotate to the vertical, thereby reducing heat build-up beneath the vehicle and minimising FOD hazards.
Speeder alternately burns Jet A-1, kerosene, diesel, or Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Ergo, the machine is capable of undertaking missions vastly beyond the purviews of its electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) pseudo-contemporaries. Mayman says Speeder, in its unpiloted cargo configuration, will have a maximum speed of 434-knots and a range of 347-nautical-miles. Conversely, Speeder’s piloted iteration has an advertised top-speed of a comparatively leisurely two-hundred-knots.
In August 2021, Mayman Aerospace’s Speeder was selected by the US Air Force’s Special Operations Command to participate in the Department of Defence’s High Speed VTOL Concept Challenge.
In September 2022, Mayman announced its Speeder programme had received $1.25 million in funding from the US Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime programme. AFWERX is a joint venture of the United States Air Force and Space Force, by which the two services seek to ‘accelerate agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent.
Viewed through the lenses of pragmatism and plain-language, AFWERX is fast and lean, low-red-tape initiative that scrutinises and endeavours to weaponize extant and inchoate Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) concepts and technologies.
Joby releases first environmental, social and governance report
On Thursday electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Joby Aviation released its first ESG report. The report covers topics including the company’s approach to safety strategy, the environmental impact of Joby and its aircraft, team member demographics and corporate governance structure. Its development was headed by newly appointed Joby sustainability lead Claire Boland. “We intend to do everything we can to accelerate the aviation industry’s transition to climate-neutral flight,” said Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “This report marks an important step towards a deeper understanding of our environmental footprint and we look forward to building on this foundation in the years ahead.”
According to Joby, the report includes what it believes to be the eVTOL industry’s first comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA). Produced with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the LCA ‘estimates the life cycle greenhouse gas impact of the Joby aircraft to be 1.5 X smaller than an electric car, assuming both vehicles are charged by 100% renewable electricity, used for commuting purposes and manufactured at scale.’ Joby noted that it plans to continue analysing the projected environmental impact of its aircraft.
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GA-ASI’s unmanned aircraft complete eight million flight hours
On 14 July General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that its family of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which includes the Predator®, Reaper, Gray Eagle, Avenger® and MQ-9B SkyGuardian® / SeaGuardian® lines, has surpassed eight million flight hours. GA-ASI aircraft have completed 566,000 total missions in nearly 40 countries around the world. In addition, there are 13 MQ-9B SkyGuardian / SeaGuardian UAS that have flown more than 4,000 flight hours, including the new Protector RG Mk1 being delivered to the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force. The first three Protectors are currently undergoing integrated test, evaluation and acceptance trials. MQ-9Bs are being operated by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), as well as supporting various US Navy exercises. The exact aircraft and customer that achieved the milestone is unknown, as it is estimated that more than 50 Predator-class Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) RPA are airborne worldwide every moment of every day.
GA-ASI aircraft average 40,000 hours per month, supporting programmes with the US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps, NASA, Italian Air Force, UK Royal Air Force, French Air Force, United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Spanish Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Indian Navy, Polish Air Force, JCG, JMSDF and others, with more customers coming online soon. Missions include helping protect ground units on the battlefield, supporting first responders in the wake of natural disasters and providing critical ISR around the world. These aircraft systems continue to maintain some of the highest mission-capable rates in the US Air Force and US Army aircraft inventories.
GA-ASI has produced more than 1,000 aircraft and nearly 500 Ground Control Stations (GCS) in more than three decades of business. In addition to UAS and GCS, GA-ASI produces Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (PED) systems, as well as sensor payloads that deliver radar and video imagery, detect moving targets on the ground and over water and provide Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) on signals of interest. GA-ASI has also developed a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into civil airspace in addition to combat environments.
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